Another edition of U-19 World Cup came to a close in Bangladesh last week. Even though the Indian team coached by Rahul Dravid ended runners-up at the tournament after losing the final by five wickets to West Indies, a number of young players made a name for themselves with some scintillating performances.
n February 14, the young guns of Indian cricket walked out to Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur expecting a shoo-in to the title as World Champions against the West Indies U-19 cricket team. But they ended up second best on the day after going unbeaten all the way till the final. Even though they finished runners-up, the youngsters coached by Rahul Dravid produced stellar performances throughout the tournament and look in line to become the next generation of players, who will don the national colours.
But who are the players that stood out with their performances at the pinnacle of underage cricket?
From batting to bowling, fielding and captaincy. Let’s analyse the performances of every player, who donned the Indian blues in the 2016 ICC U-19 World Cup.
1. Ishan Kishan – Captain and Opener
Hailing from Indian limited-overs skipper MS Dhoni’s birthplace – Jharkhand – the 17-year old wicketkeeper and batsman had a horrific U-19 World Cup by his standards with just 73 runs from six matches. The performance will look bleaker when we consider 52 of the total 73 came from one match – the last group game against Nepal. So, as an opener, Kishan failed to give India good starts in five matches apart from his fifty against Nepal.
From the captaincy point of view, the 17-year old looked calm and composed – similar to his idol – in the field. Although his performance with the bat turned out to be lacklustre, the youngster bagged an IPL contract of Rs.35 lakhs from Gujarat Lions in the auction on February 5.
From his performance in the tournament, the skipper scores very low on our ranking, but with an average of 40.88 from 10 first-class matches including a century, the young gun could turn out to be a star in the making.
2. Rishabh Pant – Wicketkeeper and Opener
Smashing an 18-ball half-century in any form of cricket is a tough task and this 18-year old Delhite, who broke the record for fastest fifty in Under-19 internationals, seems to be the next swashbuckling opener for India following in the footsteps of Sehwag, Gambhir and Dhawan. Apart from the quickfire 24-ball 78 against Nepal, the wicketkeeper-batsman also scored a century against Namibia in the quarter-final to garner 267 runs at an average of 44.50.
His heroics with the bat also fetched him a colossal IPL contract of Rs. 1.9 crore from Delhi Daredevils. But Pant, who has played two first-class matches for Delhi, looked a bit iffy behind the stumps in the final, dropping some crucial chances.
3. Anmolpreet Singh – Middle-order batsman and right arm off-break bowler
Patiala lad Anmolpreet Singh only played three matches in the U-19 World Cup replacing Ricky Bhui from the quarter-final stage. Anmolpreet scored 41 and 72 in the quarter and semi-final respectively and took three wickets against Namibia before falling cheaply to a bouncer from Alzarri Joseph. The right-hand batsman had a reasonably good tournament with 116 runs and three wickets in three matches.
However, the youngster is yet to play a Ranji Trophy match for Punjab and has only played two T20 matches for his state. Although Anmolpreet looks a good prospect for the future, he slides down the table in the list of future stars with very less first class experience.
Sarfaraz Khan has now become a seasoned campaigner in the U-19 World Cup after playing two consecutive tournaments. The youngster from Mumbai, who plays for Uttar Pradesh in the domestic circuit, was India’s highest and the tournament’s second-highest run scorer behind England’s Jack Burnham, who scored 420 runs. Sarfaraz scored 355 runs at an average of 71 including five half-centuries in the six matches to earn the plaudits from everyone. The ability to play under pressure and to take the team forward from critical situations has been a trademark of Sarfaraz, and his 51 in the final, when wickets were falling left, right and centre showed the steady head of the youngster.
The 18-year old looks the best prospect to make it to the Indian national team after having played in the domestic circuit for both Mumbai and UP and in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
5. Armaan Jaffer – Middle-order batsman
The 18-year old Mumbai cricketer, who is the nephew of former Indian cricketer Wasim Jaffer, was not even part of the Indian U-19 setup before he scored more than 1,000 runs in the U-19 Cooch Behar trophy. Although he arrived late, the youngster didn’t show any nerves in the pinnacle of underage cricket by scoring 164 runs in six matches at an average of 32. The youngster also fetched an IPL contract from Kings XI Punjab in the auctions after his good showing in the tournament.
His highest score of 64 came in the quarter-final match against Namibia, but his failure in the final when India needed someone to stay at the crease along with Sarfaraz Khan has seen him scoring an average rating in our analysis.
6. Washington Sundar – All rounder (Middle-order batsman and right arm off spin bowler)
The 16-year old from Chennai is one of the many all-rounders in the Indian U-19 team. He bats left-handed but bowls right arm off spin. 116 runs and five wickets from six matches looks a good return for a 16-year old, who scored 62 against Ireland in the opening match when India wherein a spot of bother at 55/4. His ability to take crucial wickets in the middle overs and score runs makes him a good utility player in the mould of Ravindra Jadeja, who also emerged from the 2008 U-19 World Cup.
7. Mahipal Lomror – All rounder (Left arm batsman and left-arm spin bowler)
Mahipal Lomror is another player in the mould of Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, who bowls left arm off spin and bats left-handed. Lomror is a handy lower order batsman and scored 133 runs in the six matches he played with a top score of 45. The off-spinner also picked seven wickets to finish an impressive outing in the tournament. Lomror also bagged an IPL contract from Delhi Daredevils, who picked him as part of their ‘Gen-Next’ approach.
8. Mayank Dagar (left-arm off spinner)
The 19-year old youngster was one of the most impressive performers for India in the U-19 World Cup. Dagar picked up 11 wickets in just four matches with three three-wicket hauls to his name. The numbers look even more impressive when we consider the fact that his best performances came in the crucial matches in the quarter, semi and the final - he almost scripted a remarkable comeback for the Indian team picking three quick wickets in the final against West Indies.
9. Rahul Batham (Right-arm medium)
Rahul Batham is another utility player in the Indian team, who bowls right-arm medium and bats in the lower middle order. The youngster had an average outing in the tournament with just five wickets in five matches and 40 runs to his name. His lack of pace made him less effective on the pitches in Bangladesh, which has seen him getting an average rating in our analysis.
10. Khaleel Ahmed (left-arm fast bowler)
The 18-year old pacer from Rajasthan bagged an IPL contract from Delhi Daredevils in the auction but was not really able to replicate the form he had showed with the ball in the U-19 tri-series before the World Cup. Ahmed only picked three wickets in his six matches, and although he troubled the batsmen with his line and length, his inability to take wickets has made him earn a below-average rating in our analysis.
The left-arm pacer had picked up a five-wicket haul against Pakistan in the warm-up match before the start of the World Cup, which shows his talent and can once again push his name into the limelight during the upcoming IPL season with his team, Delhi Daredevils.
11. Avesh Khan (Right-arm fast bowler)
A 19-year old youngster, who has the ability to clock more than 135kmp/h consistently, was always going to make headlines, and the youngster from Indore did just that by churning out impressive spells after spells in the U-19 World Cup. Avesh took 12 wickets in his six outings including a four-wicket haul against New Zealand in the group stages. The striking ability of the youngster has made him one to watch for in the future and his pace is likely to go up as he matures.
But the snub by IPL teams in the auction, when no one bid for the most-promising fast bowling talent, would have taken him by surprise. Avesh’s exploits don't just stop at the U1-9 level; he also picked up 15 wickets in five first-class outings for Madhya Pradesh in the domestic circuit.
12. Ricky Bhui - Middle-order batsman
The Andhra Pradesh youngster, who was playing his second U-19 World Cup, had a horrific tournament with just 47 runs in his outings and was replaced by Anmolpreet Singh in the quarter-final match against Namibia.
Others Shubham Mavi, Zeeshan Ansari and Amandeep Khare did not had many outings in the tournament to make their mark.
(Also Read: From IPL to PWL: A country of Leagues)
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