Under-19 cricket has been a breeding ground of young talent for past so many years and many talented Indian players have represented India at this level and went on to make a mark for themselves in International cricket while playing for India. Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma are some of the names that come to our mind when we think of marquee Indian players who represented India at the Under-19 level.
Under-19 which is an event that happens every two years is scheduled to take place this year in South Africa and India will enter this year as the defending champions. The year 2024 is poised for an exciting beginning with the commencement of the 15th edition of the U19 World Cup scheduled to kick off on January 19 (Saturday) in South Africa.
This tournament serves as a platform for budding talents, facilitating their transition to the senior level with a significant leap in their cricketing careers. Let's explore some of the top Indian players to watch out for in the 2024 Under-19 World Cup:
1. Uday Pratap Saharan
Young Uday, from Rajasthan, has been handed the important task of guiding India towards defending their Under-19 World Cup title. He plays middle-order for India and Punjab. Uday didn't quite shine in the recent Asian Cup, scoring just 80 runs in three matches. But he bounced back brilliantly in the South African Tri-Nation tournament. In the final game against South Africa, he hit a fantastic century (112 runs) to lead India's successful chase of 257.
Even before that, Uday showed his leadership qualities in the warm-up match against Australia. He scored a solid 74 runs, helping India reach 171 despite tough bowling conditions. So, after a slightly shaky start, Uday has stepped up and proved himself as a key player for India's title defense. His batting performances in the Tri-Nation series show he's ready to take on the challenge.
2. Arshin Kulkarni
Hailing from Solapur, Arshin Kulkarni's journey in cricket began at a young age. His early start in the sport showcased a raw talent that would soon catch the eyes of scouts and selectors. Arshin Kulkarni is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the brightest talents in Indian cricket.
The spotlight is not only on his achievements but also on the potential impact he can have on the team's success. Beyond his batting skills, Arshin proves to be a valuable asset as a seamer. His performance in the tri-series against South Africa saw him not only contribute with the bat by scoring 91 runs but also bagged two crucial wickets. The youngster also signed a 20 lakh contract with the Lucknow Super Giants in the recently concluded IPL auctions.
3. Musheer Khan
Musheer Khan, often recognized as just the younger brother of the talented cricketer Sarfaraz Khan, is carving his path to cricketing success. While comparisons are inevitable, Musheer is proving himself to be more than just an echo of his brother's accomplishments.
Unlike most players his age, Musheer has already tasted the tough and rewarding world of First-Class cricket. This experience shines through in his bowling, where he crafts crafty slow left-arm deliveries that bamboozle the opposing batter. On the batting side, he shows maturity and responsibility, anchoring the middle and lower-middle order with reliable runs.
Recently, at just 18 years old, Musheer showcased his incredible all-round talent in a match against South Africa. He tore through their batting lineup with a phenomenal five-wicket haul (5/38), then turned around and played a crucial knock of 41 runs off just 42 balls, guiding India to a vital victory. This performance was a resounding statement of his skill and potential, proving that Musheer Khan is not just Sarfaraz's brother, but a rising star in his own right.
4. Saumy Kumar Pandey
Saumy Kumar is a left-arm-off-spinner and a rising star in the Indian cricketing circle who has made a name for himself by his remarkable performances. He was appointed the vice-captain of the Uner-19 Indian team. The decision to appoint Saumy as the vice-captain raised eyebrows initially, but it wasn't long before he proved his mettle with 6/29 and a remarkable 3/49 against the Proteas in the tri-series.
Saumy's ability to adapt to unfavourable conditions has been a key factor in his success. Beyond the traditional off-spin, Saumy's bag of tricks includes variations that keep batsmen guessing. As vice-captain, Saumy's leadership qualities have become a driving force for the team.