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.
The ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand is veering towards its conclusion with just three matches remaining.
The past month has seen 16 of the world’s best youth teams battle it out for junior cricket’s most coveted prize.
Australia and India will contest Saturday’s final with both teams searching for their fifth crown but prior to the contest we look at the top five players from what has been an enthralling tournament so far.
SHUBMAN GILL (INDIA)
The Punjab-born 18-year-old has been the tournament’s best batsman so far. There can be no doubt about his temperament either after his match-winning unbeaten 102 against arch-rivals Pakistan in Tuesday’s semi-finals.
His three innings prior to the Pakistan clash had yielded scores of 63, 90no and 86. With a batting average of 170, it is no wonder that Gill has bagged a lucrative IPL contract.
HARRY BROOK (ENGLAND)
The Yorkshire batsman has been the shining light for England in the tournament with some eye-catching performances with the bat. He has been dismissed only twice in the tournament and scored a classy unbeaten 102 against Bangladesh in the group stages.
Brook has been averaging almost 120 with the bat and has also shown his all-round capabilities by chipping in with two wickets.
QAIS AHMAD (AFGHANISTAN)
With 14 scalps in five matches, the Afghanistan leg-spinner is the leading wicket-taker in the World Cup so far. He was instrumental in his side’s dream run to the semi-finals where they perished at the hands of the Australians.
His best performance came in the quarter-finals against hosts New Zealand where he returned with match-winning figures of 4-33.
ANUKUL ROY (INDIA)
He might not be the leading wicket-taker but with an insane bowling average of 7.91 and an economy rate of just 3.6, India’s left-arm spinner Anukul Roy has been up there with the best.
He was extremely lethal in the group-stages where his 5-15 against Papua New Guinea and 4-20 against Zimbabwe paved the way for some big wins for India.
SHAHEEN AFRIDI (PAKISTAN)
The Pakistan teenager is the latest product to be churned out of the country’s fast-bowling factory and he’s shown he has all the tools to make it big at the senior level.
The left-arm pacer has picked up 12 wickets in five matches at an average of 14.58. The 17-year-old was sensational against the Irish where he ran through their batting order with 6-15.