When Rahul Dravid took over as the coach of the Indian Under-19 and A cricket teams, many were relieved that the future stars were in the most appropriate hands. And rightly so – the U-19 team won 20 off their 21 matches since the 2014 World Cup, where they lost to England in the quarterfinal.
They were unbeaten in the 2016 World Cup that ended in Bangladesh on Sunday, right till the final, where they were upset and undone by a young, raw and talented West Indian side (who hadn’t played together, other than the three warm-up matches against the hosts before the tournament – they lost all three, as well as the opening game against England). As a result, the only two matches that the Indian colts have lost in 26 months are World Cup games, which have prevented them from winning that fourth trophy (they last won in 2012, under captain Unmukt Chand) despite starting as favorites each time.
Only Australia have won it three times like the Indians, but the Aussies didn’t travel to Bangladesh this time due to security concerns – an event that allowed India to blaze through the tournament with winning margins of 79 runs, 120 runs, 7 wickets, 197 runs and 97 runs. They were destroying teams like Nepal, New Zealand, Namibia (quarters) and Sri Lanka (semis) – while the West Indians were on the verge of an exit against Zimbabwe in their third group game – a must-win – which they won by ‘Mankad-ing’ in the final over by two runs. There was a huge uproar about how the youngsters failed to uphold the ‘spirit of the game’, but the West Indians only got stronger after that break, even beating hosts Bangladesh in the semis in another close-fought match.
Because of the Indians’ shoddy fielding and wicketkeeping (Rishabh Pant had a horror day behind the stumps), they couldn’t stop Keemo Paul (who Mankaded Zimbabwe) and Keacy Carty’s ice-cool approach to chasing down a tricky 146 on a slow pitch.
As a result, India remain on three World Cup trophies along with Australia, while Pakistan have won two, and England, South Africa and West Indies have won one each – since its conception in 1988 (the next was held 10 years later in 1998, after which the World Cup became once every two years).
Let’s take a look at some of the stars that have risen successfully from the junior into the senior ranks from these World Cup winning squads:
A young, heavy, scruffy-haired Inzi made his presence felt throughout the inaugural 1988 edition, but ended up on the losing team in the final against Australia. This Adelaide final was his last youth ODI. Four years later, he led the charge against England at Melbourne as part of the senior team with a whirlwind 66 to win Pakistan their first and only World Cup.
His 44 in the final against Pakistan in the first-ever U-19 final laid the foundation for a successful chase of 202, which they reached with five wickets in hand. He went on to play for Australia six years after this final in 1995, and played 54 ODIs for them and just one test. Not as famous as Inzamam, despite tasting success at a younger age.
The slightly tainted (spot-fixing allegations) Kiwi batsman was regarded as a huge talent when he played for the senior side between 2002 and 2007. He played the U-19 final against England in 1998, and ended up on the losing side. He was one of four illustrious youngsters who’d go on to taste success in the senior side.
The all-rounder scored a quick 56 to help New Zealand U-19 reach a respectable total of 241, and even took one of the three England wickets to fall later. As we know, Franklin became a handy all-rounder for the Kiwis under Vettori and Co., and also played a vital role as an overseas player in the Mumbai Indians’ winning T20 campaign.
Another very good future fast bowler, Mills didn’t get too lucky in the final, but will always be remembered for his fantastic match-winning catch (Kallis) in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal against South Africa.
Owais Shah, Graeme Swann
The two kids who took England home in style with the bat in 1998 were players who were to have contrasting senior careers not too long later. While Swann and Shah made their ODI debuts within a year of each other in 2000 and 2001, Swann went on to become one of England’s best off-spinners ever, until he retired midway through the ill-fated 2013 Ashes. Shah never quite peaked as a middle order batsman, but did well on the domestic circuits.
Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif
When two youngsters named Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif took India home in a legendary Natwest final against England in 2002, many knew that they were also part of India’s first ever U-19 winning World Cup squad two years ago in Colombo. They played the hosts and chased down 180 with ease – and Yuvraj went on to become one of India’s greatest ever limited over specialists. Kaif shone briefly before losing his place to the ‘golden generation’ after 2007.
Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith
Two 19-year-olds, also future South African senior captains, played in a losing final against Australia, but went on to represent their country with distinction and more over the years. Smith became South Africa’s youngest ever captain only a year or two later, and the U-19 captain Amla came onto the scene 4-5 years later and broke all sorts of existing batting records. Amla continues to bat like that, even today.
Shaun Marsh, George Bailey, Cameron White, Xavier Doherty
Marsh is still struggling to find a regular spot in the senior teams, but his talent can never be doubted. He hasn’t made the most of his 2002 platform, where he combined with White to chase down South Africa’s 200-odd with ease. Bailey, who has also captained Australia in limited overs cricket, too played the final with Doherty, who – despite never transitioning well into the senior ranks, took two wickets and went for less than three in his 10 overs that day. Australia won their second kiddie World Cup.
Pakistan’s second final, and their first World Cup win. They scored 230 and went on to defend it by 25 runs. Shockingly, none of those 11 winning kids went on to transition into strong senior players – which points to a lack of infrastructure and facilities required to make pros out of boys.
Lendl Simmons, Dinesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul
Ramdin fell at a crucial time during the final while he was nursing the middle order to the moderate score. He is still the West Indian senior keeper, and has even captained the test side amidst plenty of criticism and controversy. Rampaul represented the senior side with distinction, especially in ODIs, and even won the T20 World Cup in 2012. Lendl Simmons hasn’t been able to cement his place in the side, but has scored many runs for the Mumbai Indians.
Nasir Jamshed, Sarfraz Ahmed
Pakistan won their second in a row by defending a meager 109, bowling India out for 74. Nasir Jamshed graduated spectacularly to the senior ranks before collapsing spectacularly after becoming overweight and quite a liability on the field. A classic case of talent going nowhere. Sarfraz, meanwhile, has blossomed late (far later than the Indian players in this final), and has become Pakistan’s premiere keeper after the end of Kamran Akmal and the likes.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Ravindra Jadeja
0,0,4,1,0,0,6 were the scores of the top order in that fateful final – which also included current Test no. 3 Pujara, ODI record-breaker Rohit Sharma and man for all seasons Ravindra Jadeja. Rohit made his senior debut first, only a year on, to be part of the 2007 T20 World Cup winning squad. Pujara hasn’t made it to the ODI team, while Chawla shone and fell in a few years.
Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey
Jadeja played his second final in a row, and this time, ended up on the winning team led by that boy Virat Kohli – who, as we all know, is now one of the top senior batsmen in the world. Pandey was also part of the team, and hit his stride in the IPL before finally making it to the senior team over the last year, and performing in his limited opportunities. His match-winning century in Australia confirms his initial promise.
Mitchell Marsh, Kane Richardson, Josh Hazlewood
Both the current young stars of the Australian ODI team Marsh and Richardson were part of this U-19 World Cup winning final against Pakistan (again) Six years ago. Not surprisingly, Hazlewood graduated top of the class too, and went on to become Australia’s key bowler after the retirements of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson.
The current IPL young stars – Unmukt Chand (who captained India to the title against Australia with a legendary unbeaten century), Sandeep Sharma (who bowled phenomenally for Kings XI two seasons later) and Harmeet Singh – were part of this final, and India’s third World Cup win. Unfortunately, the likes of Vijay Zol, Hanuman Vihari and Baba Apirijith are taking a while to hit their stride in domestic cricket.