More surprising as it may seem, India have seen more failures in their Under-19 World Cup squads than success despite winning the tournament three times. The tournament’s history is littered with examples of players who initially exhibited great potential only to fade away eventually.
Unmukt Chand- Definitely the one to top the list. After Virat Kohli won the 2008 U-19 World Cup with his colts and went on to become the next big thing in World Cricket, Chand’s success of 2012 had forced many to draw similarities with the Indian skipper. Chand had scored a captain's knock of 111* in 130 balls as India defeated Australia in the final to lift the title. But, he could never replicate his knocks in the IPL or on the domestic circuit following it. He is yet to get a national call-up.
Stuart Binny- Having such a rich pedigree, Binny had a poor U-19 World Cup in 2002 where he could make only 34 runs in four games. He remained a regular on the domestic circuit and ICL before Mumbai Indians brought him in 2010 and then Rajasthan Royals in 2011. He, eventually, got a national call-up in 2014 in India’s tour of New Zealand. He was also picked in the 15-man squad for WC 2015 in Australia and New Zealand but didn’t play a single match. He has played 14 ODIs so far, amassing 230 runs at an average of 28.75.
Venugopal Rao - Rao was a part of that promising 2000 U-19 side that won the nation’s first-ever U-19 World Cup under Kaif’s captaincy. However, after a brief stint in the international level between 2005 and 2006, where he played 16 ODIs and scored 218 runs, he was reduced to IPL and domestic cricket only. He has been a regular member of the Andhra Pradesh Ranji side, though, amassing over 10,000 domestic runs.
Ambati Rayudu - Rayudu has been considered as more of a study in paradox. Coming up from Andhra Pradesh, the batsman has been one of India’s best as well as an inconsistent cricketer. Though he didn’t make it big in the U-19 World Cup, he was expected to be India’s next big talent. However, disputes with players and state association and then signing up with Indian Cricket League (ICL), led him to be ignored by the national team. However, after getting into Mumbai Indians squad in 2010, he started to come into the frays of the Indian squad but remained mostly a reserve player. But, he failed to take his chances in the slim window of opportunities he got, making 1055 runs in 34 ODIs getting only two centuries.
Mohammad Kaif - After leading India to its first ever U-19 World Cup title in 2000, the man from UP soon became a regular in the national team in the period between 2002 and 2006. He played 125 ODIs for India but could only score two centuries in the process. But, apart from his match-winning knock of 87* against England in the 2002 NatWest final, there was hardly any other high point. He also played for Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab, and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, but spent those periods without any visible success.
Reetender Singh Sodhi - After was his unbeaten 39 off 43 balls in the final against Sri Lanka that helped India win the 2000 U-19 World Cup, many had thought him to play a significant role in Indian cricket. However, he could only get 18 ODIs under his belt in the period between 2000 and 2002, where he scored 280 runs at an average of 25.45. He was also seen in Kings XI Punjab squad but could also play four matches.
Parthiv Patel- After captaining India in the 2002 U-19 World Cup, a young Patel was quick to break into the Indian squad. He made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2003 but could only play 13 ODIs in a two-year span, where he could average only 14.66. He also made a brief stint in 2010 again and his occasional appearances followed. He could make only 38 ODIs after a promising start and is now a regular in IPL.
Laxmi Shukla- The man from Bengal rose to prominence in the 1997-98 Ranji Trophy before making it into the 1998 squad. Though his domestic level performances caught the eye of the selectors, repetitive injuries and a horrendous outing against Sri Lanka in the Pepsi Cup meant he had already lost the trust of the selectors. He backed after going ahead with ICL when BCCI announced pay hike for domestic players. He also played 47 matches in IPL but could hardly make an impact.
Piyush Chawla- Another promising talent, a 15-year-old Piyush Chawla was a part of the squad in the 2004 U-19 World Cup and unlike his then teammates, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina, got marginal success on the international circuit. He started off well taking three wickets on his ODI debut in Bangladesh in 2007 but couldn’t convert it into any huge success. He could manage only 25 ODIs for India, where he took 32 wickets before becoming a regular in the IPL.
Saurabh Tiwari- A part of Virat Kohli’s 2008 U-19 World Cup winning squad, Tiwari could never really achieve the success many thought he was destined to. Following an initial impressive stint with Mumbai Indians, he got a call-up in the national team for 2010 Asia Cup but couldn’t capitalize on it, getting only three international caps. He has been reduced to an IPL face like most on this list.
Sandeep Sharma- The fast bowler from Punjab had created a hype during the 2010 U-19 World Cup owing to is raw pace with experts prophesying him to be a great player with the proper guidance. His re-emergence in the same tournament two years later, when India last won the title, led Kings XI Punjab to sign in 2013. However, he could never get an ODI call-up despite his talent, barring a T20I match, and plays in IPL now.
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