Exactly 12 years ago, Virat Kohli officially announced himself on the international stage by captaining the Indian cricket team to victory at the 2008 U-19 World Cup victory in Malaysia. The squad lifted the trophy without losing a single match, and confirmed their status as stars of the future.
Quite a few players from that side went on to cement their place in the senior national team. However, some others failed to make the transition successfully, opting instead for jobs outside the realm of cricket.
Coincidentally, during that same week, the senior Indian national team led by MS Dhoni also won the Commonwealth Bank series Down Under.
The U-19 level is the final hurdle for players within the youth system. Rahul Dravid, the coach of the Indian U-19 World Cup side in 2016, famously motivated his players by saying, “I played for the U-19s in 1991, and was the only one in my team to go on and play for India.”
On the 12th anniversary of the team defeating South Africa in the final by 12 runs, Sportskeeda revisits the 2008 World Cup winning team.
Kohli’s seamless transition across various age categories of the national cricket system was quite something. Billed as the next big thing in Indian cricket post the World Cup victory, the Delhi-born cricketer took just five months to earn a call-up to the senior squad - for the Sri Lanka series in August 2008.
Now 31 years old, Kohli has played 248 ODIs, 82 T20Is and 86 Tests for India, becoming a national cult figure in the process. The premier batsman also tasted senior World Cup success in 2011, winning the trophy in Mumbai with the Dhoni-led side. That same year, he would go on to make his Test debut as well.
In 2014, the right-hander was appointed as the captain of the Test side, ushering in a new era in Indian cricket. And after Dhoni stepped down as limited overs captain in the first week of 2017, Kohli was viewed as a natural successor in all three formats.
On 24 October 2018, Kohli became the quickest batsman to reach 10,000 runs in ODIs. He overtook Sachin Tendulkar's record to cement his place as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
With 165 ODIs, 49 T-20Is and 49 Tests under his belt, Ravindra Jadeja is the second most capped player from the 2008 U-19 World Cup side.
Jadeja was not a typical all-rounder during his tenure as the 2008 team’s vice-captain; he registered stellar performances with the ball, but barely got a chance to bat. He took as many as 10 wickets with an average of 13.20, finishing as one of India’s best bowlers of the tournament.
Now a senior team regular, Jadeja took just one year more than Kohli to make his breakthrough. Jadeja would make both his T20I and ODI debuts within a space of two days, during India’s 2009 tour of Sri Lanka.
Despite a mountain of criticism from experts and fans alike in the early days, Jadeja would go on to cement his place in the national team over the subsequent years. He was the leading wicket-taker at the 2013 Champions Trophy in England.
Despite not playing the Ranji Trophy 2020 final due to international commitments, Jadeja played a key role in Saurashtra’s maiden tournament victory this year. With as many as 170 Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, Jadeja is also an important cog in the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) machine.
Tanmay Srivastava registered 262 runs with an average of 52 at the 2008 U-19 World Cup, finishing as the tournament's highest run-scorer. But despite showing such unmistakable early promise, the Kanpur-born cricketer was never able to break into the senior national team.
Srivastava would go on to have several IPL stints with franchises such as Kings XI Punjab, Kochi Tuskers and Deccan Chargers, but failed to make an impact in the T20 format. He hasn't made a single league appearance in the last decade.
From 2013 Srivastava became a mainstay of the Uttar Pradesh Ranji Trophy squad for a while, but was eventually dropped in late 2018 due to a string of poor performances. In 2019 he officially switched allegiance to Uttarakhand, where he found immediate success.
On 30 December 2019, Srivastava replaced another former U-19 World Cup star Unmukt Chand as Uttarakhand captain. Now 30, he still hopes to don the India senior team colours sometime in the future.
Despite being a middle-order batsman, Punjab’s Taruwar Kohli was asked to open the batting at the 2008 U-19 World Cup. He would go on to score three consecutive 50s in India’s first three group stage matches, thus securing a position in the top order.
Scoring 218 runs with an average of 43.60, Taruwar was India’s second-best batsman in the tournament. Despite not being able to cement a spot in an IPL team, the Jalandhar born batsman did have brief stints with Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.
Taruwar's form deteriorated thereafter and he played his last IPL match in 2009. However, he did produce some good performances for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy, including a triple century against Jharkhand in the quarterfinals.
He slipped into relative obscurity after losing his spot in the Punjab team as well. However, BCCI’s domestic structure expansion to 36 teams came as a blessing, as Taruwar would go on to sign for Mizoram.
In late 2019, the 31-year-old became only the fifth player to score multiple Ranji Trophy triple hundreds, registering an unbeaten 307 against Arunachal Pradesh.
Despite not playing a single match at the 2008 U-19 World Cup, Abhinav Mukund has become a well-known face in Indian cricket. A prolific run-getter in the domestic circuit, Mukund created headlines thanks to a 400-run opening partnership with then India and Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay.
Stellar domestic performances for Tamil Nadu, including a triple century, would earn him a call-up to the senior national team for the tours of England and West Indies in 2011. He earned his first Test cap after BCCI’s selection committee decided to rest regular openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
In his three Test matches against West Indies Mukund registered one 50, and he also scored a 49 against England at Lord's. But his struggles against the moving ball in England were clear, and Sehwag had to be recalled from a recovering shoulder injury for the third Test.
Poor showings followed in the subsequent few domestic seasons, but Mukund bounced back in the 2016/17 season as he scored 849 runs including four centuries. This would prompt several India A call-ups, but he would never make the senior team again.
In his 100th Ranji Trophy match for Tamil Nadu, the 30-year-old became the state’s first ever batsman to score 7000 runs.
India’s wicket-keeper at the 2008 U-19 World Cup, Shreevats Goswami was a real animated character behind the stumps. He had a successful tournament with the bat, scoring 152 runs while opening the innings with Taruwar Kohli.
The diminutive figure was one of the first members from the squad to secure an IPL contract, signing a three-year deal with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In his very first season for RCB, he won the best U-23 player award by scoring a fifty and winning a Man of the Match award. He was also being looked at as a potential successor to MS Dhoni at the time.
The Bengal Ranji Trophy representative would go on to play as many as 29 IPL matches for various teams such as RCB, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Rajasthan Royals and most recently Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2018.
Goswami has also become a mainstay in Bengal’s Ranji Trophy setup, where he is often jostling with India’s Test wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha for a spot in the team. Funnily enough, even in the IPL, Saha is the number 1 choice ahead of Goswami for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Goswami was a part of Bengal’s 2020 Ranji Trophy squad, which finished as the runners-up.
One of the biggest contributors to India’s U-19 World Cup victory, Ajitesh Argal has completely moved away from cricket and now works as an Income Tax Inspector in Vadodara.
When it looked all but lost for India in the final against South Africa, Argal produced magic by dismissing the opposition’s star batsmen Rilee Rossouw and Pieter Malan. The fiery spell of 2-7 in five overs went a long way towards inscribing the team's name in the history books, and earned him the Man of the Match award.
However, Argal would go on to play just 19 matches in the next nine years for his domestic side Baroda, as he prioritized education over cricket.
Having made a name for himself in U-15 cricket while turning out for Madhya Pradesh, Argal was touted as India’s next best bowler by India’s junior coaches. However, a lack of motivation post the World Cup win has seen the Bhopal cricketer’s professional career die a slow and painful death.
Now 31, Argal is occasionally seen donning the cricket kit for his employer, the Income Tax department, in the BCCI Corporate Trophy.
Despite having a forgettable 2008 U-19 World Cup campaign, Manish Pandey went on to have a more successful senior team career compared to several of his compatriots on this list.
Pandey was picked by Mumbai Indians in the first IPL season, and he transferred to RCB in 2009. He created history that year by becoming India’s first-ever centurion in the tournament.
After rising through the district level hierarchy with Mysore, the Nainital-born cricketer became an important asset to Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy winning side. The breakthrough IPL and Ranji Trophy seasons in 2009 would see the teenager become a highly sought after player in Indian cricketing circles.
Pandey made his senior debut for India against Zimbabwe in 2015, and scored a match-winning 71. An unbeaten 114 against Australia at the SCG in 2016 would cement his place in the limited overs national team for a while.
Pandey was named in India’s 2017 ICC Champions Trophy squad, but an untimely injury would ruin his chances to participate in his first ever ICC tournament.
Now a mainstay in India A’s batting lineup, Pandey continues to knock on the senior team’s door as a potential number 3 batsman.
Often called a clone of MS Dhoni, Saurabh Tiwary turned heads when he made his domestic debut for Jharkhand at just 14 years of age in 2006. A mainstay of India’s U-19 World Cup batting lineup, Tiwary scored two half-centuries in the tournament - against South Africa and Bangladesh.
The teenage sensation was picked up by Mumbai Indians in the 2008 IPL draft and he became a key cog of the team’s plans. The Jamshedpur-born batsman would go on to win the U-23 'player of the season' award in 2010, scoring 419 runs in just 16 matches.
That year he also made his senior international debut, against Australia in VIsakhapatnam, after some of the senior players were rested. He was a part of the 2010 Asia Cup squad too, but never played.
Tiwary played a total of three ODIs for India in 2010, and was never recalled to the side again.
He would go on to play for multiple IPL teams such as RCB, Delhi Daredevils and Rising Pune Supergiant over the next few years, before going unsold since 2017. The 30-year-old has now made an emphatic return with Mumbai Indian in the 2020 player auction, thanks to his performances for Jharkhand (where he is the captain) in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Iqbal Abdulla was Virat Kohli’s go-to spinner at the 2008 U-19 World Cup, and he finished with 10 wickets at an average of 13 in the tournament.
Abdulla first shot to fame after impressing with the ball for Mumbai in the 2007 Ranji Trophy. An IPL call-up followed after the U-19 World Cup, as he was drafted in by KKR.
In 2010 Abdulla was Mumbai’s leading wicket-taker with 27 scalps, which bought him a first-team selection at KKR. In 2011 the Azamgarh lad would go on to produce two Man of the Match performances, and he also won the newly introduced ‘Rising Star’ award.
The subsequent season he would become an IPL champion, winning the trophy with Gautam Gambhir's side. He eventually put pen to paper for Rajasthan Royals in 2014, but after an unsuccessful season he moved to RCB - where he would spend two seasons.
There were changes on the domestic front as well. After failing to secure a spot in Mumbai’s squad in 2016, Abdulla shifted base to the Kerala Ranji Trophy team.
In 2018 he returned to Mumbai, but failed to make the Ranji Trophy probables list for two seasons in a row. Another beneficiary of BCCI’s new domestic structure, Abdulla turned out for Sikkim in the 2019-20 season.
India’s only 2008 U-19 World Cup bowler to register a five-wicket haul, Pradeep Sangwan was touted as one of the finds of the tournament.
He was first noticed in the Delhi U-15 team, where he picked up 31 wickets in just 6 matches. Sangwan created headlines after he was picked up by Delhi Daredevils in the U-19 IPL draft, ahead of captain Kohli.
After three seasons with the north Indian side, the Delhi Ranji Trophy regular was picked up by KKR, where he spent six straight seasons.
In 2013, the Bhiwani-based speedster tested positive for a Class A banned substance in a random dope test conducted by BCCI. He was subsequently slapped with a 15-month ban from all forms of cricket, a low in his relatively successful domestic career.
On his return, Sangwan picked up 32 wickets in the 2015 Ranji Trophy season, earning him a call-up from Gujarat Lions. However, he would play only seven matches in two seasons for them.
A stellar display in the 2018 Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy would see Sangwan announce himself on the domestic circuit yet again. With several teams fighting for his signature, Mumbai Indians would pick him up for Rs. 1.5 crore.
After an injury stricken 2019-20 season, Sangwan went unsold at the 2020 IPL player auction.
Siddarth Kaul picked up 10 wickets in just five matches at the 2008 U-19 World Cup. One of Punjab’s most prolific wicket-takers, the bandana-wearing speedster created one of the most iconic moments of the tournament with his famous ‘turf slide’ celebration.
Kaul was entrusted by Kohli to bowl the last over in the final against South Africa, and he delivered in spades.
Kaul was selected for the India U-19 team after superlative performances for Punjab in the domestic circuit, including a five-wicket haul against Odisha. The Pathankot pacer would become India’s joint highest wicket-taker of the tournament, along with Ravindra Jadeja.
Post the U-19 World Cup, a host of ankle injuries disrupted Kaul’s progress. However, he made a roaring return by spearheading Punjab’s bowling lineup in 2012.
A string of notable domestic performances would see him secure a spot at Delhi Daredevils during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He failed to impress though, and remained a second-choice pacer for the team.
In 2016 he was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad, which would become a turning point in his career. After failing to make a single appearance in his first season, Kaul would announce his revival in style by picking up 16 wickets in 10 games in the second.
SRH’s join highest wicket-taker in 2018 with 21 scalps, Kaul earned his first senior national team call-up for the Ireland-England tour that same year. He made his debut in the second T20I against Ireland in Dublin, and put in a strong performance.
Kaul also made his ODI debut against England in Trent Bridge, and last donned national team colors against Afghanistan in 2018.
Still a part of SRH’s fearsome bowling attack, Kaul is now a permanent fixture in India’s secondary ‘A’ team, similar to Manish Pandey.
Duvvarapu Siva Kumar
Duvvarapu Siva Kumar
Similar to Abhinav Mukund’s U-19 World Cup journey, Duvvarapu Siva Kumar failed to play a single game in the tournament. Still, he was immediately picked up by Andhra Pradesh after the completion of the U-19 World Cup.
With 133 wickets in 42 matches, the Siddhantah-born pacer is one of the state’s most successful products. Kumar was also the third highest wicket-taker in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season. He is no slouch with the bat either, and has a first-class century under his belt.
Despite such impressive statistics, the 30-year-old has never made the India A setup or his zonal team. Part of the reason for that could be the recurring injuries; Kumar has only played 42 matches in his career due to his physical issues.
Kumar last turned out for Andhra Pradesh’s Ranji Trophy team on 2 October 2018, and has been inactive ever since.
The third member of the Indian U-19 World Cup squad to not register a single match, Perry Goyal didn't even play a single senior domestic match after the tournament. His best-known performance remains the unbeaten 115 for Punjab in the erstwhile Polly Umrigar Trophy.
In 2010, Goyal would turn out for three matches in the Buchi Babu invitational tournament in Chennai, where he represented the Punjab Cricket Association XI. The team lost in the final to Mumbai Cricket Association XI by 97 runs, signaling the end of Goyal’s short domestic youth career.
He is now a Director with the RSG Group, a real estate company based in Patiala.
Often drawing attention due to his unique name, Napoleon Einstein played only one match at the 2008 U-19 World Cup. Born into a family of scientists, his name was coined after his grandfather received a letter from the great Albert Einstein.
Einstein made his Ranji Trophy in late 2007 for Tamil Nadu against Kerala, scoring 92 and picking up two wickets. Post the U-19 World Cup he was drafted by CSK, but didn’t play a single match for them.
Einstein was last seen playing for Tamil Nadu in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2014.