The Mohammad Kaif-led Indian squad which had gifted the nation its first ever World Cup at the U-19 level was one of the most talented and promising set of youngsters to have ever donned the Team India jersey. Hosted by Sri Lanka, the third edition of the U-19 Cricket World Cup was indeed a special one since it featured some of the soon-to-be world-class cricketers such as Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Ian Bell, Yuvraj Singh, Brendon McCullum, Graeme Smith and Marlon Samuels.
Kaif's side which had emerged victorious at the end of the 16-team tournament had defeated Bangladesh, New Zealand, Nepal, England, Australia and finally Sri Lanka in order to clinch the coveted silverware.
Here is an exhaustive list of the top XI members of the 'Men in Blue’ which had participated in the 2000 edition of the world-event and what are they currently up to:
1) Ravneet Singh Ricky:
One of the most prolific run-getters of the 2000 ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup, Ravneet Singh Ricky, unfortunately, could never find his way into the Indian senior team. Having scored 340 runs at an average of 42.50, he finished second in the list of the highest run-getters of the tournament, a spot behind the soon-to-be South African skipper, Graeme Smith.
Ravneet Ricky who used to play First-Class cricket for Punjab formally announced his retirement from the sport back in 2008. The 35-year-old man from Punjab currently works as a Commercial Officer at Air India.
2) Manish Sharma:
Manish Sharma who used to partner Ravneet Ricky at the top of the Indian batting order also used to represent Punjab at the national-level from 2000 to 2006. The 34-year-old, who had played his last First-Class match against Gujarat at Mohali in 2006, had racked up 31 First-Class and 17 List A appearances for his state.
Sharma was also a part of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) side, Chandigarh Lions. His current status, however, is unknown.
3) Mohammad Kaif:
The man who guided the Indian U-19 cricket team to their first ever World Cup triumph, Mohammad Kaif was a regular India international in the period between 2002 and 2006. Having notched up 13 Test and 125 ODI caps for India, Mohammad Kaif is mostly remembered for his match-winning knock of 87* (off 75 balls) against England in the 2002 NatWest final.
He was also a part of the Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab, and Royal Challengers Bangalore squad in the Indian Premier League. Kaif had joined the Indian National Congress (INC) and contested the 2014 Loksabha elections from Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh (UP) where he eventually lost the electoral battle to Keshav Prasad Maurya of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Most recently, Mohammad Kaif has featured as a Guest Editor at Sportskeeda.
4) Yuvraj Singh:
One of most successful Indian cricketers of all-time, Yuvraj Singh has featured in over 300 international matches for the 'Men in Blue'. Singh, who is now 34 years of age, was an indispensable part of both the Indian squads which had won the inaugural edition of the World T20 in South Africa as well as the 2011 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup in India.
Having been diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Yuvraj Singh successfully overcame the disease and started his charity, ‘YouWeCan’ which has aided hundreds of cancer patients all over India. Most recently, he has won his very first IPL title with the Hyderabad-based franchise, Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2016.
He made a comeback to the ODI team in January 2017, after more than two and a half years. In only his second match since returning, he scored 150, his highest score in ODIs, against England at Cuttack.
5) Reetender Singh Sodhi:
Reetender Singh Sodhi played a brilliant knock of unbeaten 39 (off 43 balls) against Sri Lanka in the final match of the tournament to steer the ‘Men in Blue’ to their first-ever U-19 World Cup triumph in 2000. Sodhi had played 18 One Day International matches for Team India in the period between 2000 and 2002.
He has also represented the Mohali-based franchise, Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League. Most recently, the 35-year-old has been seen acting as the match referee in a number of IPL matches.
6) Yalaka Venugopal Rao:
The first Indian ‘super sub’ in ODI cricket, Yalaka Venugopal Rao was an indispensable part of the 2000 World Cup winning Indian U-19 squad. He had also featured in 16 One Day International matches for the ‘Men in Blue’ in the period between 2005 and 2006.
Venugopal Rao is currently a member of the Andhra Pradesh Ranji side. He has played 120 First-Class and 137 List A matches for them scoring over 10,000 domestic runs in the process.
7) Niraj Patel:
Niraj Patel had represented Gujarat in exactly 100 First-Class matches before formally announcing his retirement from the sport in 2015. The 35-year-old was also a part of the Rajasthan Royals side in the 2008 and 2009 editions of the Indian Premier League.
The left-handed middle order batsman had gone on to score 5,887 First-Class and 2,221 List A runs for his state at the national level. Patel's current status, however, is unknown.
8) Ajay Ratra:
Ajay Ratra had featured in 6 Test matches and 12 One Day Internationals for Team India. One of the most gifted wicketkeepers of his generation, Ratra's tenure at the top level of Indian cricket was cut short due to a number of injuries and the emergence of new wicketkeepers such as Parthiv Patel, MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik at the national level.
The 34-year-old who had represented Haryana, Goa and Tripura at the national level finally bowed out in 2015.
9) Mrityunjay Tripathi:
Mrityunjay Tripathi, who had played 13 First-Class and 11 List-A matches for Uttar Pradesh, opted for an early retirement from the sport. The 34-year-old right-arm medium fast bowler had represented his home state for a period of a few years from 1999-00 to 2002-03.
Like most of his teammates, Mrityunjay Tripathi’s current status, too, is unknown.
10) Anup Dave:
Anup Dave finished as the fifth highest wicket-taker of the 2000 edition of the U-19 Cricket World Cup that took place in Sri Lanka with 13 scalps under his belt. He had played 16 First-Class and 28 List A matches for Rajasthan before retiring from the Indian domestic circuit back in 2005-06.
Dave had also featured in an exhibition match for Rajasthan Presidents’ XI in 2006. The 35-year-old’s current status is unknown.
11) Shalabh Srivastava:
Having notched up 14 wickets in 8 matches, Shalabh Srivastava finished as the third highest wicket-taker of the 2000 ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup. The 34-year-old left-arm medium fast bowler had represented his state, Uttar Pradesh in 41 First-Class and 33 List A matches.
He has also played for the Delhi Giants in the ICL, Kings XI Punjab in the IPL and for India in the Hong Kong Super Sixes. Srivastava was banned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for five years due to his role in spot-fixing allegations back in 2012.