When the Indian U-19 team enters the Bay Oval Ground in New Zealand on Saturday, it will be eyeing a record fourth title at the level, something that its opposition, the Australian team, will also be aiming for.
The likes of skipper Prithvi Shaw, his deputy Shubman Gill, pacer Kamlesh Nagarkoti and all-rounder Shivam Mavi have all managed to obtain reasonable contracts with various teams in the recently concluded IPL auction, clearly showing that the future is really bright for all these young cricketers.
The U-19 squad is usually the stepping stone for youngsters like these before they enter the senior team. Over the past 20 years, several Indian cricketers, after having a successful stint at this level, have gone on to have a long and successful career for the national team, and, considering the way the current squad is performing, it won't be long before a few new names are added to this list.
One of the two main stars of the victorious U-19 squad from the 2000 World Cup along with skipper Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh has had an illustrious career at the senior level. An impressive showing in the World Cup, scoring 203 runs at a strike rate of over 103 coupled with 12 wickets at 11.50 in 8 matches, saw him chosen as the Player of the Tournament, which was enough to catch the eyes of the selectors.
Making his debut as a 19-year-old in the 2000 Champions Trophy, the southpaw became a regular member of the Indian team under Sourav Ganguly.
An exceptional fielder in the cover point region and a reliable middle-order batsman, Yuvraj's career has seen both highs and lows. His all round performance in the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup victory for India was followed by a long battle with lung cancer that threatened to end his career. Although his subsequent returns to the national side have been short-lived, his 17-year long career, in which he represented India for over 400 matches, is a specimen of how the best players perform at every level of the sport.