World Cup 2019: 6 opponents from the 2008 U-19 World Cup Virat Kohli will face again

Prasad Mandati

Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, and Steve Smith during the 2008 U-19 World Cup Enter caption Trent Boult - ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup - Official Team Photocalls

Over the years, the U-19 Cricket World Cup has been serving as the biggest platform for the young talents across the globe to showcase their talent to the cricketing world. The tournament has given India the likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, etc.

But, of all the U-19 World Cups, the 2008 U-19 tournament is remembered the most for unearthing probably the greatest batsmen of the modern-day cricket, Virat Kohli. Not only India, but the world cricket has also got a bunch of exceptionally talented cricketers who went on to become the longterm mainstays of their respective national teams.

On that note, let us take a look at six such overseas players who have played against Kohli in the 2008 U-19 World Cup and will most likely face him in the ICC Cricket World Cup, 2019.

#6 Trent Boult

New Zealand v Australia - 3rd ODI

Trent Boult is one among the three current New Zealand stars who have featured in the 2008 U-19 World Cup. The left-arm pacer was the second leading wicket-taker for New Zealand in the tournament with 11 wickets in 5 games at an outstanding average of 10.94.

On the back of strong performances at the U-19 level, Boult was fast-tracked into the national team in January 2009. He was selected for the one-day series against Australia at the age of 19 but could only manage to play the warm-up game against the Prime Minister's XI where he went wicketless.

The left-arm pacer made his Test debut against Australia in Hobart in 2011 which was won by New Zealand. He took four wickets in that match and also made crucial contributions with the bat.

On the back of his fine outings in Tests, Boult made his T20 debut in the series against England in 2013. He had made his ODI debut a year earlier against West Indies in 2012.

Boult's career-defining performance came in ICC World Cup 2015 where he ended the tournament as the joint-highest wicket-taker along with Mitchell Starc with 22 wickets.

Being a vital cog of New Zealand's bowling department, Boult along with his partner in crime, Southee, holds the key for New Zealand in the upcoming World Cup.

Thus far, the left-arm pacer has played 61 Tests, 79 ODIs and 25 T20Is scalping 246, 147 and 37 wickets respectively.

#5 Thisara Perera

England v Sri Lanka - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

Thisara Perera caught all eyes when he impressed everyone with his all-round skills in the tri-nations U-19 tournament against India and Bangladesh. He scored valuable runs with the bat and mustered 8 wickets in 5 matches with the ball.

These returns helped him earn a place in the 2008 U-19 World Cup. Perera had a decent time in the tournament as he scored 56 runs in 3 matches and mustered 2 wickets.

The hard-hitting all-rounder received his maiden international ODI call-up for Sri Lanka's tour of India in 2009, as an emergency replacement for Angelo Mathews. Perara delivered a match-winning performance with both bat and ball in only his third match to win the match for Sri Lanka.

The southpaw later went on to lead Sri Lanka in the limited-over formats. Given his strengths and recent exploits against New Zealand, in all likelihood, he will be a part of Sri Lanka's 2019 World Cup squad.

The 29-year-old has thus far played 6 Tests, 151 ODIs, and 76 T20Is scoring 203, 2133 and 1120 runs with the bat and scalping 11, 168 and 51 wickets with the ball respectively.

#4 Chris Woakes

England v India: Specsavers 2nd Test - Day Four

The premier all-rounder represented England U-19 in the 2008 U-19 World Cup. He scalped 3 wickets in as many matches and did not get a chance to bat. After the tournament, representing Warwickshire First-Class XI in 2008, Woakes took 42 wickets at an excellent average of 20.57 to top the wickets column for Warwickshire that season.

On the back of those exceptional numbers, Chris Woakes was given a call up to the preliminary England squad for the T20 World Cup 2009 but, he couldn't find a place in the final squad.

Woakes actually made his international debut in a T20I against Australia in January 2011. He was decent enough in the T20Is with 2 wickets in as many matches and made his ODI debut in the same tour at Sydney. In his second ODI, Woakes recorded his career-best figures of 6/45 against Australia at Brisbane. He also made his Test debut in the 2013 Ashes at The Oval.

The 30-year-old has become one of the mainstays of England's limited overs setup and is well in line to be a part of the English squad for the upcoming World Cup.

The Birmingham born cricketer has thus represented England in 26 Tests, 83 ODIs and 8 T20Is scoring 1012, 1039 and 91 runs with the bat and scalping 72, 116 and 7 wickets with the ball.

#3 Tim Southee

New Zealand v West Indies - 3rd T20

Tim Southee of New Zealand shot into limelight with his heroics in 2006 and 2008 U-19 World Cups. He mustered 17 wickets in 5 matches in the 2008 U-19 World Cup and won the Man of the Tournament award.

Following his scintillating performances at the U-19 level, Southee was fast-tracked into the national team in 2008. He made his test debut in the home series against England and immediately took a five-wicket haul in his very second innings to make a statement at the big stage. He has also made his limited-overs debuts against England in the same year.

Southee's career-defining performance came in the 2011 World Cup where he finished second in the wickets column with 18 wickets at an average of 17.33 and is expected to repeat that feat in the upcoming World Cup.

The 30-year-old has thus far represented New Zealand in 65 Tests, 139 ODIs and 57 T20Is scoring around 2500 runs and scalping near 500 international wickets in all formats combined.

#2 Steve Smith

Fourth Test - Australia v England: Day Three

Having started his cricketing career as a leg-spinner who could contribute a bit with the bat, he was criticized immensely for his place in the team during his early days in international cricket. However, Steve Smith turned things around incredibly to feature among the best batsmen in world cricket. 

Smith represented Australia in the 2008 U-19 World Cup and made his international debut against Pakistan in 2010 as a leg-spinner but amidst all the criticism, Smith was axed from all formats of the game after Australia lost the 2010-11 Ashes at home.

Fittingly, it was an Ashes series again that witnessed 'Smith version 2.0' in 2013. He had an impressive series with the bat and what followed next is only an upward graph for Smith. He later scored over 700 runs against India at home in 2014-15 to reach the zenith of Test rankings. His success across the formats helped him made the captain.

He was suspended last year due to the ball-tampering scandal and is expected to make his comeback in this year's IPL before he boards the flight to England.

Thus far the 29-year-old has featured in 64 Tests, 108 ODIs and 30 T20Is scoring 6199, 3431 and 431 runs at an average of 61.38, 41.84 and 21.55 respectively. Smith also has 2 double centuries, 31 tons and 45 half-centuries to his name, all formats combined.

#1 Kane Williamson

New Zealand v Bangladesh - 2nd Test: Day 5

Without a doubt, New Zealand's best batsman after Martin Crowe, Kane Williamson started it all at the age of 17. He was named the captain of the U-19 team for the World Cup in 2008. Williamson grabbed all-eyes in the tournament mainly for two reasons. One with his leadership skills and the other for his ability to play high-quality spin bowling with utmost precision.

After impressing everyone in age group level cricket, Kane made his international ODI debut against India in 2010. His international journey started with ducks in his first two innings but the Kiwi genius notched up a ton against Bangladesh in Dhaka later that year and also got the Test call up for the tour of India in the same year.

Not bogged down by the opposition, Williamson made a massive statement by scoring a century on debut and what followed next is history.

With some extreme consistency, Williamson went on to become of the best batsmen of this generation. He has been leading New Zealand all three formats since 2016 March and is expected to lead the Kiwis in the upcoming 2019 World Cup too.

Thus far Kane has played 72 Tests, 139 ODIs and 57 T20Is scoring 6139, 5555 and 1505 runs at an average of 53.38, 45.91 and 31.35 respectively. Williamson also has two double hundreds, 31 tons and 76 half-centuries across formats to his name.