The Under-19 World Cups are serious business now. Even though it is played by teenagers, the stakes are very high now because talented youngsters not only get a chance to make it to the senior side but also their national Twenty20 league with a big fat cheque alongside.
It is said captaincy at the Under-19 level is not to be taken too seriously as almost all the main decisions are taken by the coach and management, with the leader on the field expected to execute it and possibly tweak it according to match situation.
Even so, there have been quite a few players who have captained at the Under-19 World Cups and gone on to lead the senior team. The bar has been set high for India’s current U19 skipper Prithvi Shaw and his Aussie counterpart Jason Sangha.
Here are the top 10 captains from previous U19 World Cups.
VIRAT KOHLI (2008)
The 2008 edition was the first time the world got a glimpse of the emotionally charged leadership of Kohli. He led the boys in blue to the title with a 12-run win over South Africa in the final. Needless to say, the spark is still there.
SARFRAZ AHMED (2006)
The wicketkeeper batsman was in charge when Pakistan beat India in one of the most scintillating U19 finals. Pakistan defended 109 by reducing the Indians to nine for six. He led the senior side to another crushing win over the same opposition in last year’s ICC Champions Trophy.
MICHAEL CLARKE (2000)
‘Pup’ led the Aussies to the semi-finals of the 2000 Under-19 World Cup where they lost to India. However, he didn’t feature in the semi-final clash. Scored a fifty to help the senior team beat New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup final.
KANE WILLIAMSON (2008)
Another player who was destined for greatness from an early age. Led the Kiwis to the semi-finals of the 2008 edition where they lost a close game to India by three wickets. Has blossomed into one of the finest all-format batsmen and captains.
Ahead of tomorrow's #U19CWC final, watch the highlights of the last time Australia and India met in the final, back in 2012! Do you remember the #FutureStars who stood out six years ago to claim the trophy? #AUSvIND 🇦🇺🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/SwRVMK3UIW— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) February 2, 2018
MIKE ATHERTON (1988)
When the tournament was called the Youth World Cup, a certain Mike Atherton led the English side at the U19 tournament. The competition included a future All-Star bunch that included Inzamam Ul-Haq, Sanath Jayasuriya, Brian Lara and Nasser Hussain. Went on to captain the Test team 54 times, became one of the most astute openers and is currently a fine cricket writer.
BRIAN LARA (1988)
The same edition in which Atherton captained England, Lara led the Caribbean side. Captained his side to the semi-final where they lost to Pakistan by just two wickets. Retired as one of the most decorated batsman of all-time with the highest individual Test score of 400 next to his name.
EOIN MORGAN (2006)
The current England captain led the Irish side that beat Uganda in the Plate Championship play-off to finish 13th at the 2006 U19 World Cup. Dublin-born Morgan hit an unbeaten 60 in the match. Now captains a side considered one of the best limited-overs outfits in the world.
ROSS TAYLOR (2002)
The Kiwi batsman captained his side at the U19 tournament at home. His side made it to the Super League stage after winning three group games. Taylor captained the Kiwis in 14 Tests and 201 ODIs.
MUSHFIQUR RAHIM (2006)
The Bangladeshi keeper was in charge during the 2006 edition. The Tigers finished fifth after defeating the Sri Lanka by 98 runs in the play-off final. Has captained the senior team in Tests 34 times, by far the most by any Bangladeshi.
ANGELO MATHEWS (2006)
The Sri Lankan all-rounder had been earmarked as a future star and captain during his school days. Captained the side in the 2006 edition and went on to become one of the finest players produced by his country. Led his team in Tests 34 times – fourth most by a Sri Lankan.
Both the arch-rivals have great pedigree in the history of the prestigious tournament. India are tied along with Australia as the most successful team in the competition with three titles while Pakistan have two to their name.
As the two sets of youngsters get ready to take the pitch, they do not have to look too far for inspiration. Numerous players from India’s and Pakistan’s U-19 World Cup squads have made it big at the senior level further down the track.
Here, we take a look at five such players from both sides who first made their mark at the tournament.
VIRAT KOHLI (INDIA)
The Indian skipper and arguably the greatest batsman going around currently in all formats created headlines in 2008 when he led the Men in Blue to their second U-19 World Cup title. Kohli’s boy beat their South African counterparts in the finals at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
As skipper of the side, Kohli’s star was born in the tournament and there has been no looking back since for him as he continues to etch his names in record books. His talent was clear to see even then when his man-of-the-match performance saw India creep over the line in the semi-finals against a New Zealand side which included the likes of Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Corey Anderson.
SARFRAZ AHMED (PAKISTAN)
Kohli’s Pakistan counterpart Sarfraz Ahmed’s career has followed a similar trajectory. Sarfraz was the skipper of the Pakistan side in the 2006 edition of the U-19 World Cup where he led his country to the title after beating arch-rivals India in the finals at Colombo. In the process, Pakistan became the first and only team which has successfully defended their crown ever since the tournament’s inception in 1988.
Sarfraz’s boys successfully defended a paltry score of 109 in the finals against India, bowling the opposition containing Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla for just 71 runs.
RAVINDRA JADEJA (INDIA)
The ace Indian left-arm spinner has played in two separate U-19 World Cups, in 2006 and 2008. In 2006, he ended up as the runners-up as Pakistan swept their second title. Two years later, there would be no stopping Jadeja from getting the winners medal as he formed a vital cog in Kohli’s title-winning side.
It was on the back of his performances in the 2008 edition that Jadeja was picked by the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL. The rest as they say is history and Jadeja has now established himself as one of the premier spinners in international cricket.
IMAD WASIM (PAKISTAN)
In Sarfraz’s title-winning team of 2006, a certain young left-arm spinner named Imad Wasim was making a name for himself. Imad is now a permanent fixture in the senior limited-overs side and was awarded the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) T20I player of the year last year.
The Wales-born cricketer’s accurate leg-spin has seen him prosper in the T20 format and he is the current skipper of the Karachi Kings outfit in the Pakistan Super League.
It was the Pakistan quicks like Anwar Ali who stood out in the 2006 triumph though Imad’s unquestionable talent was there for all to see.
ROHIT SHARMA (INDIA)
Virat Kohli’s deputy in the limited-overs side also had a taste of the U-19 World Cup when he was a part of the Ravikanth Shukla led side which finished runners-up to Sarfraz’s Pakistan.
In six innings during the tournament, Rohit scored 205 runs at an average of 41 with three-half centuries to boot. It was a phase where the dashing batsman could bowl a bit too and he picked up four wickets at an average of 8.75.
Now regarded as one of the best players in the ODI format with a world-record three double tons, Rohit’s journey to stardom started with the 2006 edition.
All eyes of the cricketing world on Tuesday were on the ICC U-19 World Cup semi-final clash between India and Pakistan. While the game was expected to be an explosive match-up, Prithvi Shaw‘s Indian team blew Pakistan away for 69 while defending 272 to march into another final.
The summit clash against Australia will be India’s sixth in the history of the tournament – the most managed by any side. Such has been their consistency in the tournament in recent years that they have now made the final in five of the last seven editions.
Both 2018 finalists have been equally successful when it comes to winning titles with three championships each to their name. Hence, the final on Saturday at Mount Maunganui will be a chance for both sides to become the most successful team in the history of the U-19 competition.
It was in 2000 that the Indians first made it to the final of the tournament. A Mohammad Kaif led side beat hosts Sri Lanka in the final at Colombo to clinch the first U-19 World Cup win for India. Yuvraj Singh was the star for India in the tournament as he delivered a man-of-the-series performance.
Since then, their record in the U-19 tournament has only improved with each passing edition. Virat Kohli delivered India’s second title in 2008 when his side beat South Africa in the title clash at Kuala Lumpur.
India’s third title came in 2012 under the leadership of Unmukt Chand. Australia were the losing finalists in that instance and revenge will be on their minds when the two sides meet on Saturday.
Having made six finals compared to Australia’s five, it is India who hold the edge when it comes to the mantle of being the most successful side in the history of the competition. However, come Saturday, it will be a direct shootout for that claim.
Shaw and his boys have been top-class throughout the tournament, winning all five of their matches. What will also give them greater confidence is teh fact they beat Saturday’s opponents in their opening match of the group-stages.
The Rahul Dravid coached side have been near flawless so far in the U19 World Cup and the final provides them a chance to become the kings of the U-19 world.