Mount Maunganui: This is it! Prithvi Shaw and the boys have done it. India have become the first nation to win the ICC Under-19 World Cup four times. They have broken the deadlock with Australia and how fitting it is that they have done so against the Aussies! The team has not lost a single match on their triumphant road to the final as Shaw joins Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli and Unmukt Chand in the list of captains who have led India to U-19 World Cup glory.
Here’s a brief guide on India’s four ICC Under-19 World Cup-winning captains:
Mohammad Kaif (2000)
Mohammad Kaif was the team’s captain which consisted the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Ajay Ratra, Y Venugopal Rao, who later went on to represent the senior Indian side. While none could make it as big as Yuvraj, the Kaif-led team was the first Indian side to have won the ICC Under-19 World Cup.
India won all their matches barring a no-result game against Netherlands before outplaying the hosts Sri Lanka in the final. While Kaif could not reach the heights for India as long as he would have liked, he went on to become one of the finest Indian fielders.
Virat Kohli (2008)
It was a rain-truncated final in Malaysia and India kept their nerves in a low-scoring thriller to win their first ICC U-19 World Cup after Kaif and boys won it in 2000. There was no shortage of rain during the match and there was no shortage of wild celebrations after India won. The boy, who led India to title glory, had played some crucial knocks in the tournament, earning him a lot of plaudits. But his in-your-face attitude and devil-may-care approach was also a talking point. While there were moments when it seemed that he will throw it all away and his will be a story of unfulfilled promises, he regained his focus and is doing justice to the ability he once displayed while leading for Indian U-19 side from the front.
While that aggression has not left him and wild celebrations and in-your-face attitude are still a part of his cricket even now, Virat Kohli, the boy wonder, has transformed himself into Virat Kohli, the world conqueror. So much so that he is now in a solid position to break Sachin Tendulkar’s record of most hundreds in international cricket.
Unmukt Chand (2012)
An all-important final and the Indian captain stood up and how! Sandeep Sharma’s four-wicket haul had restricted hosts Australia for 225/8. While it is not a big total, the pressures of playing in a final have seen many teams tumble. Not so for India as Chand bossed the Australian attack with an unbeaten 111-run knock off 130 balls to seal India’s third U-19 World Cup triumph. So impressive was he, with his temperament and stroke-making that former Australian skipper Ian Chappell had waxed eloquent about Chand, even urging the Indian cricket team selectors to fast-track him into the senior Indian side.
While Chand’s career has not skyrocketed as expected, the young man’s heroics in the U-19 World Cup final were surely inspiring and will be remembered.
Prithvi Shaw (2018)
He may have grown a mustache but behind that trace of a boy-turning-into-a-man sign, there still lives a kid-next-door, who has a chip on his head but his boyish charm is infectious. Prithvi Shaw was India’s most-talked cricketer as the team left the shores for New Zealand for the World Cup and he will return from the Trans-Tasman nation with his reputation enhanced. Virat Kohli, someone who had led India U-19 to World Cup glory before making a successful transition from age-group cricketer to one of India’s best of all times, had said he was excited about Prithvi Shaw and if Shaw keeps scoring runs and remains in good shape, it won’t be too long before India will have two Under-19 World Cup- winning skippers playing for the senior Indian side at a same time. More power to Shaw, more power to the Indian cricket team....