The U-19 World Cup has been a good hunting ground for India. They have made it to the final nine times and won the title five times. As always, a good showing at the event tells fans that there is enough talent in the pipeline. The 2024 edition was no different. A run to the final, where they lost to Australia by 79 runs, showed that India has some good depth at the youth level. Indian skipper Uday Saharan, who scored a tournament-high 397 runs, impressed with his temperament. Musheer Khan (360 runs) showed that he could score the tough runs, pacer Raj Limbani (11 wickets) has an inswinger worth taking note of and attitude to match, Saumy Pandey’s left-arm spin earned him 18 wickets.
It must be said no one stood out in the manner that Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Shikhar Dhawan, Unmukt Chand, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal or Kamlesh Nagarkoti did. But that may not be a bad thing. There was a time when being part of the U-19 team gave the players exposure that others of a similar age in India could only dream about: It could fast-track players into the limelight. But now with the IPL becoming another stage that players must shine on before being considered for India A, the path to the national team has become a little longer. The hard yards still need to be done. Gill and Jaiswal took their time before finding their feet for India. Shaw struggled with off-field issues despite making his debut before them. There is a lot of talent that passes through the selection net at the age-group level and all of that becomes competition at the senior level. And now, more than ever before, players know that the U-19 level is just the beginning.
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