Virat Kohli reminisces 'very special' 2008 U-19 World Cup
What's the story?
Virat Kohli might be international cricket's undisputed champion at the moment, but just a decade ago, he was one of the many young, aspiring Indian domestic players who were trying their best to sneak into the Indian team. The U-19 World Cup in 2008 was a major milestone in Kohli's career, one that helped him leap over his competitors and find a Team India spot.
The 29-year-old spoke about his journey in the tournament, less than a decade back, in the lead-up to the U-19 2018 World Cup that starts next month:
“The ICC U19 World Cup was a very important milestone in my career. It helped us get a good platform to build on and make our careers from thereon, so it holds a very important place in my mind and heart. It’s very important to understand and respect the opportunity it provides you and as I said, for me, it holds a very special place in my heart".
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A number of current international stars are from the U-19 batch of 2008, having played with or against each other in the World Cup held in Malaysia. Captaining the Indian side, Kohli led the team to a memorable title win against South Africa in the finals.
The heart of the matter
Kohli played against the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee, as well as Kane Williamson, currently the mainstays of the New Zealand team. The Indian team did not play against Australia, hence Kohli missed out on the opportunity of rubbing shoulders with Steve Smith, or facing Josh Hazlewood.
“I remember playing against Kane. He was someone who always stood out in the team, his batting ability was very different from the other players who were around. Steve (Smith) I did not quite play against at the U19 level, so I didn’t watch him bat, but he has come a long way in his career as well. It is good to know that so many people from that batch, not just three of us captaining our countries, but apart from that a lot of players have played for their respective countries.”
While Kohli will be leading the Indian side out against South Africa, a set of youngsters will be representing their respective countries in the 2018 U-19 World Cup in New Zealand starting January 13, the twelfth edition of the junior team.
The U-19 World Cup, a steady graduation for the best teenage cricketers in each country, gives the youngsters a taste of what international cricket is like. Ever since the tournament came into force in 1988, several cricketing stars found it to be the medium to give their careers a massive boost.
As has invariably been the case in the previous editions, the 2018 U-19 World Cup will also churn out future international stars, and continues to be one of the most important tournaments for junior teams across the Test playing nations.