India U-19 made history by winning the World Cup for a fourth time, becoming the first team to do so. The promising displays showed that the future of Indian cricket is in safe hands. The country’s tradition of finding solid batsmen continues but for the first time, the pacers were in the limelight, showing that they were as good, if not better than their overseas counterparts.
In Prithvi Shaw, India have one of the finest young batsmen in the world but his dismissal in the final showed that the Mumbai opener is still a rough diamond. As he has already made waves in the domestic circuit and had only solid knock in the tournament, he fails to make the cut in this list. Little room for surprises here. Here’s a pick of our five best Indian talents from the victorious team from New Zealand:
Before the start of the tournament, runs were expected to come from Prithvi Shaw’s blade, but Shubman Gill stole the show. The Punjab batsman was composed, compact and piled on runs like nobody’s business. The Punjab batsman finished with staggering figures of 372 runs in five innings. The final – where he scored 31 – became the only time he missed crossing a fifty.
Gill has made an impact playing for Punjab too and has drawn comparisons with Virat Kohli. The right-hander’s forward press was a treat to watch and was able to seamlessly shift from attack and defence. The Fazilka-born 19-year-old was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders for a steep Rs 1.8 crore in the Indian Premier League auction. His determined unbeaten century against Pakistan in the semi-final will not be forgotten in a hurry.
Prithvi Shaw might have set the ball rolling for India with a breezy 94 in the league game against Australia but Manjot Kalra finished things by launching an extraordinary counter-attack in the final. The stylish left-hander was brave with his shot-making, an approach that paid rich dividends in the final.
Kalra technique bore a stark resemblance to Yuvraj Singh, especially when he was cutting against the pacers. The Delhi lad was also comfortable playing spin and registered handsome knocks when his team needed him the most – against Australia in the group stages, semi-final against Pakistan and the final. Kalra became the fifth batsman to score a century in a final and finished with 252 runs in the tournament. Strangely, none of his predecessors have gone on to make a name for themselves in international cricket.
Conditions were not a deterrent for the the left-arm spinner from Jharkhand, who finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker in the tournament. Anukul Roy was one of the pick of the bowlers when the India U-19 side toured England last year. Agreed, nine of his wickets came against Pupua New Guinea and Zimbabwe.
Roy, though, complemented his pace attack superbly in the final. Picking up two key wickets and tying the Australian batsmen down along with fellow spinner Shiva Singh.
A fluent run-up and a skiddy action, pacer Kamlesh Nagarkoti was a handful. The 18-year-old is not your run-of-the-mill Indian pacer either. He can already clock more than 140 km/h and can send the stumps cartwheeling for a mile.
Nagarkoti was picked up in the auction for Rs 3 crore by Kolkata Knight Riders, joining teammate Gill. Nagarkoti finished with nine wickets, including a total of five from the two Australia games. The batsmen were genuinely beaten for pace. An all-action cricketer, Nagarkoti showed a lot of heart, relentlessly attacking the stumps and is also a handy lower-order batsman.
The lanky Bengal pacer’s tournament nearly ended after the first game, where he suffered an injury in India’s tournament opener. After coming back, Porel gave away just eight runs in five overs against Bangladesh. Between the semi-final and the final, he picked up six wickets. Porel’s height and his ability to hit the deck hard holds him in good stead for the years to come. Like Nagarkoti, Porel can also crank up a fair bit of pace. The 19-year-old is already a regular for his state team.