Before being tossed directly into the boiling cauldron of international cricket, the cream of youngsters go through the U-19 and ‘A’ sides to get a taste of what the game’s top-most level feels like.
A wave of change was brought in by the Mohammad Kaif-led Indian U-19 team in 2000, and the successful transition of a number of youngsters from that World Cup winning side to the Indian team paved the way for the next crop to be inspired to follow suit.
Eight years later, a team headed by an aggressive Delhiite eked out a narrow victory against South Africa in the finals to win the U-19 World Cup. While captain Virat Kohli remains Team India's biggest find from that batch, Ravindra Jadeja and Manish Pandey have also steered their careers in the right direction.
While others like Saurabh Tiwary and Abhinav Mukund couldn't hold their places in the national side for long periods, some like Taruwar Kohli, Ajitesh Argal, Napolean Einstein and Tanmay Srivastava faded away after a glittery start.
Here's a list of all the other players who successfully transitioned from U-19 to international cricket from the 2008 batch:
The Kohli-Kane Williamson duel, both as world-class batsmen and as captains, dates back to 2008, when the duo first locked horns. Possessing a contrasting personality to his more flamboyant counterpart, the unassuming Williamson is a throwback to the 70s, a traditional, grounded player who has seamlessly re-invented himself to fit into the modern scheme of things.
He, however, did not have a particularly fruitful campaign, amassing just 124 runs from five games at a forgettable strike-rate of 49.
The two current Kiwi thunderbirds, Tim Southee and Trent Boult, learnt the nuances of destructing opposition batting line-ups right since their early days. While Williamson made his debut two years later, in 2010, Southee was included in the New Zealand T20I squad a week before the start of the World Cup. He went on to win the Player of the Series award in the World Cup as well.
All-rounder Corey Anderson and Hamish Rutherford were also part of the squad.
Steve Smith has had a remarkable transformation: far from being one of the world’s best batsman, Smith was a leggie when he started off for Australia. At the domestic level, he was known for his handy batting and was part of a talented line-up of Aussies who played the U-19 World Cup in Malaysia nine years ago.
He had a pretty average outing, fetching 114 runs at an average of 28.50 and picking seven wickets from four games.
Along with Smith, a chunk of the current Australian pace battery Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson were part of the squad. James Faulkner, who has a history of animated duels with Kohli, was also part of the team, as was all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who has been used effectively by the team as an all-rounder since his debut in 2015.
The late Phillip Hughes, who died due to a head injury on the pitch in 2014, was also part of the line-up.
The Pakistani side, under the captaincy of their current national skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, had clinched the title in 2006, but failed to go past an in-form South Africa in the semi-finals two years later. The side was led by Imad Wasim, the Welsh-born all-rounder, who had to wait until 2015 to make it to the senior team.
Junaid Khan has had multiple mini-battles with Virat Kohli, (the Delhi batsman scored just two runs off the 22 balls he had faced off the left-arm pacer before this year’s Champions Trophy final clash). He was part of their side in 2008 as well, becoming the primary left-arm pacer in the absence of Mohammad Amir, who was withdrawn from the tournament.
Pakistan cricket’s enfant terrible, Umar Akmal was also part of the Imad Wasim-led side, and did not take much time to graduate to the big league, getting a look into the national side in 2009.
Others: Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood.
India and Sri Lanka cross each other’s paths quite often in the international calendar. Kohli would have, by now, picked up a thing or two about Dinesh Chandimal, the opposition captain, who also played the 2008 edition of the mini-World Cup. He had an abysmal tournament, averaging 4.40 from five games.
Transition hit Sri Lankan cricket hard, despite the likes of Lahiru Thirimanne making it to the national side by the start of the decade. Limited-overs specialist Thisara Perera was fast-tracked into the national side as quickly as 2009, and has played close to 200 internationals for the Lankans.
Kusal Perera, who has been playing for the Lankans since 2013, was also part of the line-up.
Before being pulled down by his country's board, Darren Bravo was one of the pillars of West Indies' middle-order. The nephew of the great Brian Lara, the elegant Bravo was part of the Windies squad that was preparing a new look side for the future, after Lara's retirement. Others, like teenage sensation Adrian Barath, Kieran Powell, Devon Thomas and Veerasammy Permaul were also part of the unit.
Two years before the senior team won the World T20, the English U-19 side, bringing in a wind of change, included players that went on to represent the senior side after proving their mettle in domestic cricket. Players like Steven Finn, James Taylor, Chris Woakes, Tom Westley, Liam Dawson and Stuart Meaker, all made the cut to the big league.
Bangladesh's Nasser Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Subhashish Roy, Suhrawadi Shuvo; South Africa's Wayne Parnell, Rilee Rossouw, JJ Smuts and Zimbabwe's Peter Moor, Solomon Mire, and Kyle Jarvis also make it to the list.