The 2020 U19 World Cup ended on Sunday with Bangladesh stunning India by three wickets in the final on Sunday at Potchefstroom in South Africa. Put into bat first after losing the toss, India crumbled under the pressure, managing only 177 in 47.2 overs.
The Indian bowlers tried hard to defend the small target, with Ravi Bishnoi (4 for 30) and Sushant Mishra (2 for 25) bowling their hearts out. However, defiant knocks from Parvez Hossain Emon (47 from 79) and Bangladesh skipper Akbar Ali (43 not out from 77) led the batting side to their maiden U19 World Cup win.
While India crumbled in the final, opener Yashasvi Jaiswal continued his great run with a stupendous 88 from 121 balls. On that note, here's a look at five Indians who have been named player of the tournament in the U19 World Cup over the years.
#1 Yuvraj Singh (2000)
A prodigious left-handed talent, Yuvraj Singh first came to prominence during the U19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2000. While future South African captain Graeme Smith finished as the leading run-getter with 348 runs, it was Yuvraj who won the man of the series for his stellar all-round show.
In eight matches, Yuvraj scored 203 runs at an average of 33.83 and an impressive strike rate of 103.57 with two fifties. Further, with his left-arm spin, Yuvraj was among the leading wicket-takers, claiming 12 wickets at an average of 11.50 and a strike rate of 20.3. The youngster had two four-wicket hauls to show for his efforts.
India made it to the final against hosts Sri Lanka, and while Reetinder Singh Sodhi played a key role in India’s victory, Yuvraj too played his part with a crucial 27 in a chase of 179. Impressed by his aggressive strokeplay, the selectors immediately drafted Yuvraj into the senior side and the rest, as they say, is history.
Beginning with a sublime 84 against Australia in the 2000 ICC Knockout, Yuvraj went on to play stellar roles in India’s 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup triumphs.
#2 Shikhar Dhawan (2004)
Four years after Yuvraj, another Indian left-hander, Shikhar Dhawan rose to fame - this time through the 2004 edition of the U19 World Cup. However, it was a performance that was almost forgotten as Dhawan failed to make the transition to the senior level over the next few years.
The attacking southpaw smashed 505 runs in seven matches of the 2004 edition. Dhawan’s runs came at an average of 84.16 and a strike rate of 93.51. He had three hundreds and a fifty to show for his efforts.
India, however, bowed out of the tournament by losing to Pakistan in the semi-final, with Dhawan contributing only 8.
Although Dhawan made his international debut against Australia in 2010, it wasn’t until 2013, when he smashed the fastest hundred by a Test debutant against Australia, that he rose to fame again. He was subsequently instrumental in India winning the Champions Trophy in 2013, bagging the player of the series trophy.
Since then, Dhawan has made it a habit of rising to the occasion in ICC events. He was India’s leading run-scorer in the 2015 World Cup with 412 runs as the team made it to the semi-final. In the 2019 edition, he made a hundred against Australia, but was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after picking up a thumb injury during the same innings.
With 338 runs, Dhawan was the leading run-getter in the 2017 Champions Trophy as well, a tournament best remembered for India’s meltdown in the final against Pakistan. When fit, Dhawan remains a key figure in India’s scheme of things, especially in one-dayers.
#3 Cheteshwar Pujara (2006)
While Cheteshwar Pujara has failed to establish himself in the Indian limited overs squads, he too took the U19 World Cup route to pave his way for future fame and success. In the 2006 edition, Pujara was the leading run-scorer in the tournament as well as the player of the series.
In six matches, Pujara amassed 349 runs at an average of 116.33 and a strike rate of 82.11, with one hundred and two fifties. He came a cropper in the all-important final though. Pujara was trapped lbw second ball for a duck as India crumbled to 71 all out in a chase of 110, conceding the trophy on a platter.
Four years after impressing in the U19 World Cup, Pujara made his debut for India in the second Test against Australia at Bengaluru in 2010. He made a fluent 72 in the second innings as India chased down 207 with ease to clinch the series 2-0.
After numerous highs and lows, Pujara’s finest moment came against Australia Down Under in 2018-19, when India registered their maiden triumph in the country. The India No. 3 scored over 500 runs in the four-match series, and was instrumental in India’s historic victory.
#4 Shubman Gill (2018)
Shubman Gill continued the tradition of Indians winning the Player of the tournament in the U19 World Cup. He was in fine form throughout the 2018 edition as India lifted the trophy by defeating Australia in the final at Mount Maunganui.
Gill was the second highest run-scorer in the 2018 edition with 372 runs in six matches at an average of 124 and a strike rate of 112.38, including one hundred and three fifties. In the final against Australia, while Manjot Kalra stole the show with an unbeaten hundred in a chase of 217, Gill also made his presence felt with a crucial 31 from 30.
Two years since his exploits at the U19 stage, Gill hasn’t made the complete transition onto the next level. He has only played two ODIs for India, scoring a total of 16 runs. However, given more opportunities, Gill has the talent to succeed.
Following a stunning run for India A vs New Zealand A, in which he has registered scores of 83, 204 not out and 136 (the last knock came post selection), Gill was named in the Indian team for the Tests versus New Zealand as a replacement for Rohit Sharma. The youngster will be keen to grab his chances with both hands, if he gets them.
#5 Yashasvi Jaiswal (2020)
Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal was the standout batsman in 2020 U19 World Cup by some distance. He went into the tournament having raised the hopes of Indian fans following some fantastic performances in List A cricket, and he didn't disappoint in the grand event .
With exactly 400 runs in 6 matches, Jaiswal finished as the leading run-getter in this year's U19 World Cup. The left-hander averaged 133.33 with one hundred and four fifties. He failed to cross the fifty mark in only one match, and that was because India had to chase just 42 against Japan. Jaiswal finished unbeaten on 29.
After decimating Pakistan in the semis with an unbeaten century, Jaiswal was India’s lone warrior in the final against Bangladesh. While the rest of the batting completely fell apart, the southpaw held things together for India with a stoic 88. He scored almost half the runs in India’s total of 177, and give them a semblance of chance to defend the title that they won in 2018.
Given the form that he is in, it shouldn’t be long before Jaiswal is drafted into the national squad. Considering all that he has gone through to reach where he is today, one can only hope he achieves greater success in the future.