George Town (Guyana): Record four-time champions India will strive to maintain their envious track record and discover an abundance of talent along the way as they begin their U-19 World Cup campaign here against South Africa on Saturday.
Expectations are high for the likes of Harnoor Singh, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, skipper Yash Dhull and Ravi Kumar, who have already shown glimpses of their potential in tournaments leading up to the World Cup.
India flew into the Caribbean right after their Asian Cup win, gearing up for the ICC event with victories over host country West Indies and Australia in the warm-up games.
India has been the most successful team in the tournament’s history and reaching the finals of the last three editions is testament to their remarkable consistency.
No player from the 2020 batch, which came second to the first-time champions Bangladesh, has gone on to play for India and only time will tell if anyone from the 2022 class makes it to the top tier.
The current batch doesn’t have child prodigies like Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill (2018 pass-outs), but some players have already caught the eye.
Jalandhar-born left-handed opener Harnoor is expected to score a bag full of points in the tournament, just like Yashasvi Jaiswal did in the previous edition.
The 18-year-old was India’s leading go-getter in the Asian Cup with 251 runs in five games, hitting an unbeaten 100 against Australia in the team’s final warm-up on January 11.
Right-armer Hangargekar, who has played senior cricket for Maharashtra, is another player to watch out for.
He impressed with his raw pace in the Asian Cup, taking eight wickets and also being a handy hitter in the league table.
The left arm pacemaker Ravi Kumar is also expected to make timely breakthroughs and will be very confident after a four-wicket-haul against the Australians.
Skipper Dhull, a highly regarded batsman in the Delhi cricket circles, did nothing outstanding in the Asian Cup, but his fifties back-to-back warm-up matches show he has a good feeling.
All-rounder Raj Bawa, who bowls at a medium pace with the right arm and strikes left, will also play a vital role for the team.
Head coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar spoke about India’s rich legacy in the competition ahead of the game in South Africa.
“There is a huge legacy because India has done so well in this tournament. It doesn’t help that we have won four times. There is a new team so you have to start over,” said Kanitkar, adding that the players are also getting used to it. to bi-bubble life in COVID times.
India is placed in Group B alongside South Africa, Ireland and Uganda. The top two teams qualify for the knockouts.
The match against South Africa will probably be the toughest for India.
The winners of the 2014 edition South Africa’s chances of success on home soil ended in the quarter-finals two years ago.
All-rounder Dewald Brevis has generated maximum attention in the junior camp Proteas.
Playing in the CSA Provincial T20 Knockout competition in October, his batting style drew comparisons to AB de Villiers, while his leg spin gave the West Indies plenty of trouble in a recent warm-up series against the hosts.
Left arm spinner Asakhe Tsaka and captain George van Heerden also hope to make a name for themselves in the coming weeks as South Africa searches for a second title.
India: Yash Dhull (c), Harnoor Singh, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, SK Rasheed (vc), Nishant Sindhu, Siddarth Yadav, Aneeshwar Gautam, Dinesh Bana, Aaradhya Yadav, Raj Angad Bawa, Manav Parakh, Kaushal Tambe, Rajvardhan Vaargekar, Vasu , Vicky Ostwal, Ravi Kumar, Garv Sangwan.
South Africa: George van Heerden (c), Liam Alder, Matthew Boast, Dewald Brevis, Michael Copeland, Ethan Cunningham, Valentine Kitime, Kwena Maphaka, Gerhard Maree, Aphiwe Mnyanda, Andile Simelane, Jade Smith, Kaden Solomons, Joshua Stephenson, Asakhe Chaka.
Match starts 7.30 IST.
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