The Priyam Garg-led Indian team enter the 2020 U-19 World Cup as one of the favourites to lift the title — for an unprecedented fifth time in their case — and that tag has somehow always accompanied the ‘Boys in Blue’ as far as the most prestigious junior cricketing event is concerned. And given how India have won the title four times, finished runners-up twice and third on as many occasions, there’s a good reason why they're considered perennial favourites.
The 2018 squad was perhaps one of the most dominant outfits in the history of the competition, winning all six games in the campaign by comfortable margins — which included victory margins of a 100 runs and eight wickets against Australia in the group stage and the final respectively. The team hardly broke a sweat through the course of the campaign and were streets ahead of their competitors in all three departments.
While it doesn’t guarantee a direct selection into the senior side, the U-19 World Cup is a great way for a budding cricketer to get noticed, and the number of noteworthy performances dished out by members of this squad, they were bound to grab the attention of the state and the national selectors as well as IPL scouts.
Here we look at each member of the victorious Indian squad and summarise their progress across various levels of competitive cricket since the triumph in New Zealand in February 2018:
Prithvi Shaw: The Mumbai lad had been marked as "one for the future" right from his early days, and Shaw was one of the central figures in India’s victorious campaign in the 2018 edition, leading the side to their fourth title.
Shaw not only marshalled his troops in a manner that could project him as a future leader of the Indian team, he also pitched in with vital contributions with the bat, scoring 261 runs in five innings at an average of 65.25.
Shaw’s next major appearance was for the Delhi Capitals (then Daredevils) in the 2018 IPL. It was Gautam Gambhir’s poor form that led to Shaw getting an opportunity at the top of the order, and Shaw grabbed the chance with both hands to make himself a permanent fixture in the team’s top order ever since.
Shaw also stormed his way into the Indian team later that year, making his international debut in the two-Test series against West Indies in which he scored 237 runs in three innings at a stunning average of 118.50, including a century on debut at Rajkot. He was a favourite to open the innings for India in the subsequent series Down Under, but an unfortunate injury to his ankle during a practice game saw him getting ruled out of the entire tour, and Mayank Agarwal grab the spot vacated by him.
Shubman Gill: While a number of members of the title-winning 2018 U-19 World Cup squad got picked up by various IPL franchises and also became key members of their respective domestic sides, Shubman Gill is the only member other than Shaw to break into the Indian team after his rich haul of runs in the tournament hosted in New Zealand.
Gill was the standout performer during the event in the batting department, finishing second in the runs chart with 372 runs from five innings with a century and three fifties to his credit, although he did have the best average (124).
The Punjab batsman, like many other members of that squad, featured in the IPL two months later, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Gill has played two full seasons with the Dinesh Karthik-led team, his combined run tally for the franchise in 27 appearances, across two seasons, standing one shy of the 500-mark. While he initially had to be slotted in the middle order, he eventually made his way up, where he has found a lot more success — an example of which was his 76 against Mumbai Indians in 2019 in a winning effort.
After spending months on the selectors’ radar, Gill finally made his India debut in the ODI series in New Zealand that followed the Australia tour. Gill however, could only register single-digit scores in the two innings and subsequently lost out on a spot in the senior World Cup squad later that year.
Aryan Juyal: The Uttar Pradesh native donned the ‘keeper’s gloves for the first two matches of India’s campaign — against Australia and Papua New Guinea respectively — before Harvik Desai took over the role for the remainder of the tournament.
Juyal effected three dismissals from his two appearances, and was unbeaten on eight after facing four deliveries in the final over of the India innings against Australia, collecting a boundary off his first delivery followed by two doubles in the only opportunity he got to bat in that tournament.
Juyal has since represented Uttar Pradesh in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and made his First-Class debut in the ongoing Ranji Trophy, smashing a century in his second game against Karnataka and following it up with a fifty against Saurashtra. Juyal was also a member of the India squad in the recently-concluded Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup in Bangladesh, in which the Indian team were beaten by Pakistan.
Abhishek Sharma: The Amritsar-born all-rounder was among the core members of India’s campaign in the tournament, chipping in with vital knocks to go with his bowling duties. His all-round abilities stood out in the quarter-final victory over Bangladesh, in which he scored a 49-ball 50 and later bowled an economical spell of 2/11 from five overs.
Abhishek was part of the Delhi Daredevils team in the 2018 IPL right after the U-19 World Cup and although he had to wait till the business end of the league stage to get an opportunity, he got off to a blistering start in the cash-rich league with a 19-ball 46 in Delhi’s home fixture against Royal Challengers Bangalore, smashing three fours and four sixes at a phenomenal strike rate of 242.11.
Sharma, though, didn’t get much game time in the 2019 edition of the IPL, making only three appearances in the team’s run to the playoffs without making much of an impact in any of them. He was part of the Punjab outfit in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as well as in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last year as an opener.
Arshdeep Singh: The left-arm medium pacer from Madhya Pradesh made only two appearances in the tournament — against Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe respectively, recording figures of 2/10 from seven overs against the latter.
However, due to the intense competition within the squad in the pace department, especially with the presence of Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel and Shivam Mavi, Arshdeep didn’t get another opportunity for the remainder of the tournament.
Arshdeep would make his IPL debut in the 2019 edition for Kings XI Punjab, who secured his services at his base price of Rs 20 lakh. The Guna-born cricketer made only three appearances in the season, picking up 2/43 against Rajasthan Royals on debut.
Arshdeep recently made his First-Class debut for Punjab in the ongoing Ranji Trophy, picking up back-to-back three-wicket hauls against Vidarbha and Delhi respectively with his team currently finding themselves on top of the points table in the Elite Cross Pool.
Harvik Desai: The Saurashtra keeper-batsman took over the wicket-keeping duties from Aryan Juyal after being included in the XI in the fixture against Zimbabwe, effecting two stumpings and slamming an unbeaten 56 at the top of the order. His half-century though was ultimately relegated to a supporting act to Gill’s 59-ball 90 not out as India chased the 155-run target down with all 10 wickets intact and nearly 30 overs to spare.
Desai would later dish out another vital supporting act, this time in the final against Australia as his unbeaten 47 played the perfect foil to Manjot Kalra’s 101 not out as India won the match by a comfortable eight-wicket margin.
While the riches of the IPL has evaded him ever since, given his relatively tame strike rate (59.91 in List A, 107.14 in T20), Desai has cemented his spot in the Saurashtra side, scoring a fifty in each innings as an opener against Uttar Pradesh in what has been his last appearance so far, although this time the ‘keeper’s gloves were being donned by Snell Patel.
Manjot Kalra: Another member of the U-19 World Cup-winning squad who would later join the Delhi camp in the IPL, Kalra’s piece-de-resistance so far remains his unbeaten 101 against Australia in the final, an innings in which he took charge right from the word go and ensured he anchored the chase of the modest target set by the Aussies without ever putting his team in a spot of bother. Along the way, he was supported by the likes of Shaw (29), Gill (31) and Desai (47 not out) — with whom he shared an unbroken 89-run stand.
The Delhi lad however, has not had much to write on since then as far as his cricketing exploits are concerned, having made a total of two appearances across formats — both for his state team in the 2018-19 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in which he managed a total of just 13 runs, including a duck against Uttar Pradesh. Kalra was in the Delhi squad in both the 2018 and the 2019 editions of the IPL, but didn’t get a single game in either even as his U-19 colleagues Shaw and Abhishek went on to make their debuts in the league.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti: Nagarkoti made headlines during the U-19 World Cup for reasons both on as well as off the field. On the field, he was serving up fiery spells to opposition batsmen marked with rapid pace, clocking regularly in the mid and late 140s and even catching the attention of West Indian pace legend Ian Bishop. Off it, he was picked up by the Kolkata Knight Riders for a sum of Rs 3.2 crore.
Nagarkoti had begun the campaign with a haul of 3/29 against the Aussies, and collected even better figures of 3/18 against Bangladesh in the quarter-final a day before the IPL auction. Nagarkoti finished with nine wickets from six innings at an average of 16.33 and 3.48 respectively, instantly making him a future fast-bowling star in the eyes of many.
Nagarkoti made two appearances for Rajasthan in the Vijay Hazare Trophy immediately after the U-19 World Cup, but hasn’t played a single competitive match since due to spate of injuries, missing both IPL seasons despite being a member of the KKR camp.
Pankaj Yadav: The Ranchi lad was something of a mystery bowler heading into the tournament as there was little information on the leg-spinner. Son of a milkman who had moved to the Jharkhand capital from the Naxal-infested Palamu district, Yadav’s feats in the 2016-17 U-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy, where he collected nine wickets across three games, helped in his selection into the New Zealand-bound World Cup squad.
Yadav’s appearances on the cricket field however, have been limited to a couple of youth one-dayers — a warm-up clash against South Africa before the main fixtures in the U-19 World Cup, and against Kuwait in the U-19 Asia Cup in Colombo last September.
Riyan Parag: Though primarily a batsman, one of Parag’s noteworthy performances in the tournament was with the ball — collecting 2/6 from four overs as the Indian bowlers choked the life out of the Pakistani batting unit in the highly-anticipated semi-final clash, bundling them out for 69 after setting them a challenging 273 to win.
While Parag didn’t quite hog the limelight in the tournament, either as a middle-order batsman or a handy leg-spinner, he has since grown by leaps and bounds as a cricketer, both in the IPL where he plays for the Rajasthan Royals as well as for his native state of Assam. Son of former Assamese First-Class cricketer Parag Das, he made his IPL debut in the 2019 season, making an immediate impact with his hard-hitting in the middle-order which translated to match-winning 40s against Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, and a half-century in a losing cause against the Delhi Capitals.
That the Royals have announced their decision to host two ‘home’ fixtures at Guwahati’s Barsapara Stadium aside from setting up an academy in the state might even be viewed as Parag’s influence on the franchise.
In his most recent First-Class performance, Parag stamped his class in the four-day format with a patient 123 against Uttarakhand, standing tall against an attack that was initially breathing fire. His knock proved crucial as the opposition were bundled out for 121 and 83 to suffer an innings loss.
Ishan Porel: Another member of the seam-bowling cartel that played a key role in India’s triumph in the 2018 U-19 World Cup, Porel stood out in the semi-final against Pakistan, his haul of 4/17 helping dismantle the arch-rivals and send the ‘Boys in Blue’ into the final with a massive 203-run victory.
Porel has since made appearances for the India A side, which he will be doing once again in New Zealand later in January on the sidelines of the senior team’s tour. Among his other standout performances since the successful U-19 campaign two years ago was his 5/43 for India C against India B in the Deodhar Trophy 2019 final in Ranchi, a six-wicket burst for Bengal against Jammu and Kashmir in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as well as a haul of 4/62 against Gujarat in the ongoing Ranji campaign.
While not having played a game in the IPL despite being part of the Kings XI Punjab squad, Porel remains a mainstay in the Bengal attack and will hope to make good use of any opportunity afforded to him in the upcoming India A tour in order to grab the national selectors’ attention.
Himanshu Rana: Rana’s solitary appearance in the tournament was in the opening fixture against Australia, in which he scored 14 runs batting in the middle order before getting caught by Austin Waugh, son of former Australia captain Steve Waugh, off Jack Edwards’ bowling.
Rana, who made his Haryana debut in 2015, was the leading run-scorer for his team in the 2018-29 Ranji Trophy with 594 runs from nine games at an average touching 35, including a knock of 164 against Odisha. He was recently part of the Haryana side that reached the semi-finals of the 2019-20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, chipping in with two half-centuries including a 34-ball 61 in a losing cause against Karnataka in the semi-final.
Anukul Roy: Nicknamed ‘Samastipur’s Ravindra Jadeja’ by some, Roy holds a special place in India’s victorious campaign, having finished on top of the wicket charts in the tournament with 14 scalps from six innings at an stunning average of 9.07 and an economy of 3.84. Roy tore through the Papua New Guinea middle and lower order to register a match-winning haul of 5/14, and followed it up with a performance of 4/20 against Zimbabwe — India, incidentally, winning both games by 10 wickets.
Roy was picked up by the Mumbai Indians in the 2018 auction, but the left-arm spinner had to wait for an entire year before making his debut for the Rohit Sharma-led team — against Chennai Super Kings no less at the MA Chidambaram, where he bowled two overs and picked up the wicket of Dhruv Shorey in what remains his only appearance for the four-time champions.
Roy also played a central role in Jharkhand’s victory over Maharashtra in the 2018 Vijay Hazare quarter-finals with a haul of 4/32. He has also played his part in Jharkhand’s stellar run in their ongoing Ranji campaign, his 4/28 in the first innings restricting Assam to 162, which then paved the way for Jharkhand to grab a massive first innings lead and eventually an innings win.
Shivam Mavi: Another member of the lethal Indian pace department who lit up the World Cup with some fiery bowling, Mavi, in partnership with Nagarkoti, helped run through the Aussie batting order in the opening game of the tournament, and cemented himself as the opening bowler for the remainder of the tournament, in which he picked up nine wickets with impressive numbers — average of 18.88 and economy of 4.12.
Mavi, like Nagarkoti, joined the KKR camp for a price of Rs 3 crore. Unlike Nagakoti though. Mavi not only made his IPL debut in 2018, but went on to represent the two-time champions in nine matches that season, although he could only collect five wickets at an average of 54. He missed the 2019 edition due to injury.
Having since collected a hat-trick in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, made a solitary appearance for India A against South Africa A in August, 2018 as well as in the recently-concluded ACC Emerging Teams Cup in Bangladesh, Mavi grabbed attention once again during his First-Class debut in Uttar Pradesh’s fixture against Railways, grabbing 4/19 from eight overs in a game that finished in a draw, with Railways grabbing extra points for a first innings lead.
Shiva Singh: Shiva did not exactly collect wickets in heaps like Anukul Roy did, and could’ve done little to terrorise batsmen being a spinner, but did his bit for the team in the form of creating pressure by drying up the runs and getting the crucial breakthroughs, the most important of which occurred in a space of three overs in the tournament final in which Shiva first removed Nathan McSweeney to break a dangerous-looking partnership, and followed it up with the dismissal of Will Sutherland in his very next over, snapping Australia’s rebuilding process and helping the Indians restrict them to a manageable 216-run total.
Since that campaign, Shiva’s appearances in competitive cricket have been limited to the 2018-19 editions of the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, as well as the CK Nayudu U-23 Trophy in the same season in which he went viral on social media for his 360-degree turn during his run-up, prompting the likes of Indian spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi to tweet out his surprise.
Aditya Thakare: The Vidarbha bowler didn’t get to make an appearance in any of the six matches that India played in their U-19 World Cup campaign, given that the seam-bowling department was full to the brim and the destruction unleashed by the Nagarkoti, Mavi and Porel made it very difficult for the team management to include anyone else in. Thakare has since then made only a handful of appearances in competitive cricket, his most prominent performance being a match-winning five-wicket haul for Vidarbha against Chhattisgarh in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy.
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