The ICC Under-19 World Cup 2022 is taking place in the West Indies in its fourteenth edition. The runners-up of the last version of the tournament, India, have progressed to the semis with flying colours.
The blue brigade will play their fourth consecutive semifinal of the contest against Australia which really is a reflection of fast-paced development in India’s junior cricket system. They have lost only three games out of their last 33 matches in the tournament which speaks volumes of how strong their future is, whichever parameter one may use to ascertain that.
India’s batters and bowlers have balanced their performances well to march into the semi-final. Let’s throw some light on few of the batters who can do wonders for India in the future if groomed well.
Angkrish Raghuvanshi (272 runs in 4 matches in U-19 WC 2022)
Right-handed opener for India U-19 side, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, had left Mumbai at the age of 11 to move to Delhi to train under former India all-rounder Abhishek Nayar. The 16-year-old’s father, Avneesh Raghuvanshi, represented India in tennis while his mother, Malika played basketball for the country. Young Angkrish is definitely carrying on the sporting legacy of his family. His idols are Sachin Tendulkar and Abraham Benjamin de Villiers.
The right-handed opener was part of Mumbai’s U-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy winning team in 2019 from where he earned a call up to India’s squad for the U-19 Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the end of last year. Raghuvanshi notched up 109 runs in the tournament including a match-winning half century (56*) in the final against Sri Lanka.
In the ongoing Under-19 World Cup, Raghuvanshi has so far collected 272 runs at a healthy average of 68 while his highest score was registered against Uganda in Trinidad when he smashed a swashbuckling 144 to help establish the foundation for his side to cross 400 in the final analysis. Of course, it was Raj Bawa’s herculean effort of 162* (108) which finally propelled India above 400 but Angkrish had left the crease in the 38th over with India in a dominating position at 291/3 on the given day.
The impressive performance that had been studded by 22 fours and 4 maximums was laced with tremendous class and temperament. Some of the pull shots he played with elegant ease remined the observers of the game of a certain Rohit Sharma in his early days. In his full flow, Raghuvanshi generates excellent power too.
India will look at him for a good start against Australia while if taken care, he can be the next future star for Indian cricket going forward.
Raj Angad Bawa (217 runs in 4 matches of U-19 WC)
Another youngster who belongs to an illustrious sporting rich family is the Himachal-born Raj Angad Bawa. Raj’s grandfather, Tarlochan Singh Bawa was a key member of India’s 1948 Olympic gold-winning hockey side while his father Sukhwinder Singh had coached India’s superlative all-rounder Yuvraj Singh.
A hard-hitting left-hander who is also a right-arm medium pacer, Angad Bawa provided many examples of his skills during the Vinoo Mankad Trophy and Challenger Trophy in October 2021 with a ton and 8 wickets in the latter. His special shows promoted him to India U-19 Asia Cup side where he finished the tournament with 8 wickets.
In the ongoing U-19 World Cup, like his roommate, Raghuvanshi, he too went big and slammed an unbeaten 162 against Uganda. The knock was laced with 14 boundaries and 8 hits out of the park and came at a breakneck strike-rate of 150. In this spectacular knock, the left-hander overtook Shikhar Dhawan (155 during the 2004 edition) in recording the highest individual score for an India batter in U-19 World Cups.
India will hope to get more service from this dashing left-hander in the upcoming days.
Harnoor Singh Pannu (100 against Australia in a warm-up game ahead of U-19 WC 2022)
Harnoor Singh comes from a cricketing family; his father Birinder Singh had played for Punjab at the Under-19 level whereas his grandfather Rajinder Singh was also involved with the game in a way. The left-handed opener was in a terrific mood in the Challenger Trophy this season where he ended being the highest run-scorer with 397 runs including three centuries.
He stretched his form with 191 runs in three matches of the triangular U-19 series involving India U-19 A, India U-19 B and Bangladesh U-19 in December 2021. He scored his runs at a healthy average of 63.7. Carrying his dream form in the U-19 Asia Cup 2021 in UAE, he smashed a wonderful 120 at a strike rate of over 90 in the very first game against the hosts. He finished the competition as the highest run-scorer with 251 runs at 50.20.
The Jalandhar boy who turned 19 on January 30, 2022, extended his purple patch on the Caribbean shores as he warmed up with an unbeaten 100 against Australia U-19 in India’s second practice game in Guyana. Even though he didn’t perform too in the league games leaving his 88 against Ireland, he can surely be a fluent batter in the coming years for the blue brigade.
India will hope for a good score from him in the semifinal against Australia.
Yash Dhull (Captain of India in U-19 World Cup 2022 who scored 302 runs in Vinoo Mankad Trophy 2021-22)
It is never easy to carry the heavy responsibility of leading the Indian team at the world stage and that too at a tender age of 19. “Instinctive captain,” in the words of India U-19 head coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar, the Delhi boy has risen up by investing his efforts through past few years in developing his leadership skills as well as polishing his batting skills.
Dhull, who previously had led the country in the Under-16 age bracket, had a superb Vinoo Mankad Trophy 2021-22, India’s domestic U-19 inter-state competition, with 302 runs in five games, batting in the middle order. His first big assignment was to lead India Colts in the Asia Cup and he passed the exam in flying colours as India went on to win the title in UAE in late December.
He began his preparations for the U-19 World Cup with two back-to-back fifties against West Indies and Australia in the warm-up fixtures. But he had to miss India’s second and third league games after being down with Covid. Along with India U-19 vice-captain, SK Rasheed, Dhull had to spend time in isolation.
Dhull returned to lead his troops in the quarter-final game against Bangladesh and he surely displayed some fabulous skills with the captaincy hat. The way he stationed close-in fielders against the defending champions and decided on the right match-ups while placing the right man in the right positions painted out how cunning he is as a leader at such a young age. Even when the team was limping a bit in chasing the modest total of 111 set by Bangladesh, he stood tall and finished the job at hand to take his side into the semi-final with an assured 20*.
India will play the second Super League semi-final against Australia on February 2 at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua. The winner of the game will meet the winner of the first semi-final between England and Afghanistan in the final on February 5 at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua.