The U-19 World Cup has provided several stars over the past few years. The current Indian captain, Virat Kohli led the junior side to glory in the 2008 edition, alongside Ravindra Jadeja and Manish Pandey. The likes of Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, who featured alongside one another in the 2018 edition, are also slowly finding their feet in the international stage.
Over the years, the U-19 World Cup has become a launchpad for Indian youngsters to make a mark and potentially pave the way for an accelerated push to the national set-up.
With the wide range of audience and the IPL, the U-19 stars have the perfect platform to shine and rise through the ranks quickly. However, there are instances of former U-19 starlets failing to cope with the pressures of the IPL and sudden stardom. With the burden of pressure and expectations on their shoulders, these players are yet to fulfil their potential. Here are five such former India U-19 starlets who are yet to make it big.
# 1 Ashok Menaria
After Virat Kohli's side won the 2008 U-19 World Cup, it was always going to be a tough task for the next team to emulate the same feat. Although they weren't able to do so in 2010, captain Ashok Menaria was touted as one to watch out for in the future.
A genuine spin-bowling all-rounder, Ashok Menaria has had a decent domestic career with Rajasthan so far. Averaging more than 30 in List A and First Class cricket with the bat, Menaria has critically underwhelmed with the ball in hand.
Part of the Rajasthan Royals, Menaria has had a couple of noteworthy performances to his name. However, the all-rounder hasn't quite fulfilled the expectations given his inconsistent performances in the domestic circuit. Given how fellow spin-bowling allrounders, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are doing, Menaria's dreams of representing India look to be all but over.
#2 Sarfaraz Khan
Sarfaraz Khan rose to stardom in IPL 2015 when he became the then-youngest player in the history of IPL. However, he was already ruling the roost in U-19 cricket with the Indian side. The diminutive batsman is one of the highest run-scorers in U-19 World Cup history with 566 runs in 12 matches across two editions. With the world at his feet, Khan was destined for Indian honours in the near future.
However, it wasn't meant to be for the youngster. Since his IPL 2015 exploits, Khan has experienced a turbulent period. Given the competition within the Mumbai domestic set-up, Khan shifted base to UP where he had a torrid time. He did manage a few sparkling knocks with KXIP in the 2019 edition of the IPL but was slowly disappearing off the radar.
Although he is yet to make it big, he has shown signs of his best form in recent times. Upon returning to Mumbai, the former U-19 starlet scored 928 runs in six games, including a swashbuckling triple-hundred against UP. With time on his side, Khan will have to strike a balance between consistency and unconventional stroke play if he were to make it big in the domestic and IPL circuits.
#3 Iqbal Abdulla
The Indian U-19 Batch of 2008 has produced some of India's best in Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja. Others such as Manish Pandey and Siddharth Kaul have also gone to make a mark in the IPL and don the Indian jersey. However, one who failed to deceive is Iqbal Abdulla.
The U-19 starlet has been a regular in the domestic circuit with the experience of 68 First-Class matches under his belt. The left-arm spinner impressed during his stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders. He even went on to win the Under-23 Player of the Tournament award in 2011. But with increased expectations, Abdulla hasn't scaled those heights again courtesy some inconsistent form in the domestic circuit.
Turning up for Royal Challengers Bangalore, he couldn't seal a place in the roster of the franchise. Currently playing first class cricket for Sikkim, the allrounder is still eyeing a spot in the Indian side. While his performances for Sikkim have been good, time might be running out for the former KKR and RCB spinner to make it big in the domestic circuit.
#4 Vijay Zol
A talented left-hand batsman, Vijay Zol was the captain of the U-19 side in the 2014 U-19 World Cup. Although he didn't light the competition with his performances, his talent was evident. The Maharashtra native was bought by RCB with an eye towards the future . However, Zol has not been able to make the step up, with inconsistent performances stifling his path to stardom.
Although the southpaw has a couple of hundreds for Maharashtra in the domestic circuit, Zol hasn't been able to sustain consistency with his form. With averages of 34.90 and 28.73 in First Class and List A cricket respectively, the top-order batsman has been overlooked at times. With the emergence of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ankit Bawne, Zol hasn't seen much action of late.
While Zol continues to struggle, the arrival of new crop including Priyam Garg and Yashasvi Jaiswal could make it even harder for the twenty-five-year-old to contend for an IPL berth. Although he has age on his side, Zol's domestic career so far has been underwhelming, given his potential.
#5 Unmukt Chand
Unmukt Chand was highly touted as the next breakout star in Indian cricket. Hailing from Delhi, a top-order batsman with a hint of arrogance in his batting, it wasn't long before Chand was being compared to Virat Kohli.
Like Kohli, Chand led the Indian U-19 side in a successful campaign where the Delhi native scored a sparkling hundred in the final. With the prospect of another Kohli in the making, Chand was always going to be in the limelight for the next few years.
However, the youngster hasn't been able to translate his U-19 form to the domestic scene and the IPL. The former U-19 captain has featured in the IPL for Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians. Although he has played 21 matches in the IPL, Chand has only managed one fifty so far.
Currently leading Uttarakhand, Chand is starting to get big runs under his belt. Despite all the early promise, Chand's inability to make a mark in the domestic circuit has cost him a potentially more successful career.