Under-19 cricket is the stepping stone for young cricketers to make it big on the international stage. The under-19 World Cups present the perfect opportunity for talented hopefuls to showcase their talents in front of a global audience.
India is the most successful team in the history of under-19 World Cups, having won the title on 4 occasions. Some of the all-time Indian cricket greats had their first moment of glory at this prestigious tournament. The current Indian captain, Virat Kohli, also announced himself on the global stage by captaining the Indian team to the 2008 under-19 World Cup title.
On that note, let us have a look at the 5 Indian cricketers who were awarded the 'Player of the Tournament' at under-19 World Cups.
Indian cricketers who bagged the 'Player of the Tournament' award at under-19 World Cups
#1: Yuvraj Singh - 2000 under-19 WC
Yuvraj Singh was the first recipient of the 'Player of the Tournament' award in under-19 World Cups. Although this was the third edition of the tournament, it was the first instance that this award was presented.
The Punjab all-rounder scored 203 runs at a decent average of 33.83, along with an impressive strike rate of 103.57. He had an even bigger contribution with the ball in hand, scalping 12 wickets at an unbelievable average of 11.50 while conceding just 3.39 runs per over.
Yuvraj did not have a great start to the World Cup. He was dismissed for just 7 runs in the first group stage encounter against Bangladesh, although he did pick up one wicket. He snared a couple of wickets in the next match against the Netherlands, but was dismissed for a golden duck.
The southpaw came into his own in India's final group stage match against New Zealand. He scored a swashbuckling 68 runs off just 62 balls. He then accounted for 4 Kiwi wickets, a performance that earned him the Man of the Match award.
Yuvraj was again the star performer with the ball in India's first Super League match against Nepal. The left-arm spinner picked up 4 wickets, while conceding just 15 runs in his 9 overs. He did not have much to do with the bat as India romped home, with Yuvraj unbeaten on 7 runs.
In the next Super League match against England, Yuvraj bowled just a couple of overs and was not required with the bat, as India surmounted England's total with 9 wickets in hand. The left-hander scored 36 runs and bagged a solitary wicket in India's final Super League match against Sri Lanka.
It seemed like the man for the big occasion had saved his best for the crucial knock-out stages. He mauled the helpless Australian attack in the semi-final encounter, smashing 58 runs off just 25 deliveries. The scintillating knock was studded with 5 fours and an equal number of hits over the fence.
India was up against Sri Lanka in the final encounter. The Islanders were dismissed for a paltry 178 runs, with Yuvraj bowling just one over. India managed to overhaul the target with 6 wickets in hand, with the southpaw contributing a useful 27 runs.
With this win, India bagged their first under-19 World Cup title. Yuvraj Singh was deservedly named the 'Player of the Tournament' for his all-round performances.
#2: Shikhar Dhawan - 2004 under-19 WC
Shikhar Dhawan was the second Indian to bag the 'Player of the Tournament' award at an under-19 World Cup. The Delhi opener amassed 505 runs, the most runs by any batsman in a single edition of the under-19 World Cup. These runs were scored at an outstanding average of 84.16, along with an excellent strike rate of 93.51.
Dhawan gave a sign of things to come in India's first group stage match against Scotland. The dashing opener smashed an unbeaten 155 as India posted a mammoth 425/3 in their allotted 50 overs. Robin Uthappa (97 runs), Suresh Raina (90 runs off just 38 balls) and captain Ambati Rayudu (53 runs) gave ample support to Dhawan from the other end.
The left-hander fell cheaply for just 4 runs in India's second group stage encounter against New Zealand. He was back to his best in the final group stage match against Bangladesh, scoring a majestic 120 runs as India won the match easily.
Dhawan was the top-scorer again in India's first Super League match against South Africa. Unfortunately, his run-a-ball 66-run knock could not save India from a narrow 3-run defeat. The southpaw was dismissed for just 6 runs in India's next Super League encounter against West Indies, although India went on to win the match by a handsome margin of 96 runs.
Dhawan was back in his element in India's final Super League match against Sri Lanka. His knock of 146 runs helped India register a 56-run victory against their southern neighbours to qualify for the semi-finals.
But Dhawan's willow fell silent in the crucial semi-final encounter against Pakistan. The left-hander was dismissed for just 8 runs as India was bowled out for 169.
India was knocked out of the 2004 under-19 World Cup as Pakistan chased down the target with 5 wickets in hand. But Shikhar Dhawan was awarded the 'Player of the Tournament' for his 505 runs, including 3 centuries.
#3: Cheteshwar Pujara - 2006 under-19 WC
Cheteshwar Pujara bagged the 'Player of the Tournament' award in the 2006 under-19 World Cup. Playing as an opener, the Saurashtra batsman scored 349 runs in the tournament at a Bradmanesque average of 116.33.
Pujara started the tournament with an unbeaten 66 in India's first group stage match against Namibia. He followed that up with another undefeated 47 runs as India romped home by 8 wickets in their 2nd group stage match against Scotland.
Although Pujara was dismissed for 10 runs in the final group stage encounter against Sri Lanka, India won the match by 4 wickets to qualify for the quarter-finals. Pujara was back to his run-scoring best in the quarter-finals. His 97 runs helped India defeat the West Indies by 126 runs to make it through to the semi-finals.
The right-hander had reserved his best for the semi-finals against England, smashing an unbeaten 129 runs to help India post a total of 292/4 in their allotted 50 overs. The Indian bowlers ran through the England batting line-up to skittle them for a meagre 58 runs, thereby winning the semi-final encounter by a massive 234 runs.
India seemed to be the favourites in the final encounter after dismissing Pakistan for just 109 runs. But the Indian batsmen faltered against the Pakistan seam bowlers, and were bundled out for just 71 runs. With Pujara dismissed for a duck in the 2nd over, none of the other Indian batsmen could provide much of a resistance.
Although India was at the receiving end in the final, Pujara was adjudicated as the 'Player of the Tournament' for his consistent batting performances throughout the under-19 World Cup.
#4: Shubman Gill - 2018 under-19 WC
Shubman Gill won the 'Player of the Tournament' award in the 2018 under-19 World Cup, and was the first Indian to do so after a gap of 12 years. The Punjab batsman was India's top run-scorer in the tournament with 372 runs to his credit.
More than the number of runs, it was his consistency and sublime stroke-play that caught the eye. He gave cricket fans all over the world a sign of his abilities, with his average and strike rate being 124.00 and 112.38 respectively.
Gill started the tournament on a positive note, with his 63 runs off 54 balls helping India beat Australia by 100 runs in their first group stage encounter. India did not need his services in the second group stage match. Captain Prithvi Shaw smashed an unbeaten half-century as India won by 10 wickets against Papua New Guinea.
The classy right-hander went out to open the batting in India's final group stage clash against Zimbabwe. He caressed the ball to all corners of the ground on his way to an unbeaten 90 off just 59 deliveries, as India registered another 10-wicket victory.
Gill continued his consistent run in the quarter-finals against Bangladesh. He was the top-scorer with 86 runs as India crushed its eastern neighbours by 131 runs.
The youngster was at his sublime best in the semi-finals against Pakistan, notching up an unbeaten 102 runs off just 94 deliveries. India's total of 272/9 was too much for their western neighbours as they were blown away for just 69 runs, losing the match by a whopping 203 runs.
Gill registered his only sub-50 score in the final against Australia. But his knock of 31 runs and a 60-run second-wicket partnership with Manjot Kalra helped India register an easy 8-wicket victory in the final.
Shubman Gill was awarded the 'Player of the Tournament' for his extraordinary show throughout the under-19 World Cup.
#5: Yashasvi Jaiswal - 2020 under-19 WC
Yashasvi Jaiswal was awarded the 'Player of the Tournament' in the 2020 under-19 World Cup. The Uttar Pradesh opener, who plays for Mumbai in domestic cricket, scored 400 runs in the tournament at an outstanding average of 133.33. He also provided a few vital breakthroughs at critical moments to show his all-round credentials.
Jaiswal started the tournament with a sedate knock of 59 runs as India defeated Sri Lanka by 90 runs in their first group stage encounter. He also castled Ravindu Rasantha to break a menacing 2nd wicket partnership in the same match.
The left-hander scored an unbeaten 29 runs in the second group stage match against Japan, as India chased down a lowly target of 42 runs. He followed that up with an undefeated 57 runs in the final group stage clash against New Zealand, with India winning the match by 44 runs by D/L method to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Jaiswal was again India's top-scorer in the quarter-final clash against Australia. His 62 runs helped India post a decent 233/9 in their allotted 50 overs. India went on to register a 74-run victory, with Kartik Tyagi blowing away the Aussie top-order.
The youngster continued his brilliant form in the semi-finals as well, slamming an unbeaten century as India registered a 10-wicket victory against arch-rivals Pakistan. Earlier in the day, he had also dismissed Pakistan's opener Haider Ali to halt a dangerous 3rd wicket partnership.
Jaiswal played a patient knock of 88 runs against Bangladesh in the finals. Unfortunately, he did not get much support from the other end as India folded up for a below-par score of 177 runs.
Despite a fighting effort from the Indian bowlers, Bangladesh sneaked home by 3 wickets via the D/L method. Jaiswal showed his ability with the ball in hand as well, dismissing Bangladesh's top-scorer Parvez Hossain Emon to keep India in the game.
Although India fell at the final hurdle, Yashasvi Jaiswal was awarded the 'Player of the Tournament' for his consistent all-round show in the 2020 under-19 World Cup.