Under-19 World Cup 2014, UAE February 7, 2014

India depart for World Cup as title favourites


The defending champions of the Under-19 World Cup, India, have won all four series they have played since the 2012 tournament in Australia, making them one of the most successful junior teams in the world. The coach and captain, Bharat Arun and Vijay Zol respectively, have said that they will draw confidence from those victories ahead of the 2014 World Cup set to begin next week in the UAE.

The present squad came together in July last year for the Top End Series in Darwin, beating the hosts, Australia, comprehensively in the final. That was followed by a short bilateral one-day series in Sri Lanka which India won 2-0. India then hosted a quadrangular tournament in Vizag, with South Africa, Australia and Zimbabwe the other participating teams. India trounced South Africa in the final before heading to the UAE for the U-19 Asia Cup. They maintained their reputation of raising the bar in tournament finals, batting Pakistan out of the match.

Arun said that while the team has ticked off most boxes as far as preparation is concerned, there is still improvement in certain areas.

"The performance of the squad in the last one year says a lot. We have won all four series convincingly," Arun said in Bangalore ahead of the team's departure for the UAE. "There is room for us to improve. We would still have to raise the bar. We made a few mistakes along the way. We want to be No. 1 as a fielding unit and we've been working on it."

The squad has been training at the National Cricket Academy over the last few weeks and in between headed to Wayanad, Kerala, for a short boot camp. The 2012 unit underwent a similar boot camp and Arun said the focus was on team-building exercises and getting to know one and other better.

"We identified roles for each team member and set the processes to achieve those roles," Arun said. "We did a lot of team-building activities and most of the activities would help you even in a non-cricketing environment and it helps you trust the leader.

"We have been together for over a year. They see the other side of the player. We're going to enjoy playing together, being together, doing things together and we're going to carry this to the field and that was the focus of the camp."

Arun coached the 2012 batch as well and he said the current unit has responded well to the challenges set to them. While the batting has a couple of known faces in Zol and Sanju Samson, Arun said the bowling boasts of variety.

"I don't think it's fair to compare any two teams, but I feel that this side has a lot of players of all-round capabilities," he told ESPNcricinfo before the boot camp. "They have dominated in whichever country they have toured. Kuldeep [Yadav] is unorthodox, Aamir Gani is the classical offspinner, Deepak Hooda is good for the Powerplays, our fast bowling attack looks exciting."

Zol said the conditions in the UAE will suit India's game more than it did in Australia two years ago. "The pitches in the UAE didn't have much help for the pacers [during the Asia Cup]," he said. "It was more like a batting paradise."

India begin their campaign against Pakistan on February 15 in Dubai.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 10, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    Good luck team india !!!!

  • Aamir on February 10, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    All the best to our young guns... Will be watching all India matches..

  • Naresh on February 10, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    Excited by the young Indian talent - Samson,Kuldeep and Zol. However feel that we lack in the pace department. A problem that manifests itself at all levels of our teams. The best way to rank Indian pace bowlers is to look at the number of times the pacer has clean bowled his opponents e.g. Shami The quality of the pacer then shows.

  • SATISH CHANDER on February 10, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    strange coincidence - For 2014 U-19 World Cup, India begin their campaign against Pakistan on February 15, 2014 in Dubai. Fo the 2015 Senior World Cup in Aus/NZ, India begin their campaign against the same opponents - Pakistan and on the same day i.e. Feb 15th 2015 !!!

  • Dummy on February 8, 2014, 14:37 GMT

    Hai young indian tigers .....do once again & show ur talent...JAI KANNADAMBE... JAI HIND

  • Android on February 8, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    Best of luck all you champs. I am very confident , you will bring the glory fo us. India is always a force in under 19 world cup. Unfortunately our selectors have stopped selecting young talent from under 19 team. Players like YV, Virat, Irfan and many more get get fame from under 19 world cup. Even Shikhar Dhawan was star in 2004 world cup. But how many young champs get the chance in last 4 years? Players like Baba Apajit, Unmukt Chand, Sandeep Sharma should be tried in senior team just on their performance in under 19 tournaments. But Dhoni is too reluctant to give chance to new talent. Even those players who got selected in final 15 don't get any chance to show what they have. You cannot judge anyone ability in dressing room or nets. We all saw what he did with S. Binny and Eswar Panday. Atleast give them chance to fail. He is too stubborn to try new players even in dead matches . Under Dhoni captaincy I don't think new and raw talent and blossom. We want new Sachin , Virat and YV.

  • Android on February 8, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    all the best indian crickete team playars

  • VIPIN on February 8, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    already two future indian players are there.zol and samson.in fact perfromance these sort of tournaments and ipl have to be considered for national selection than renji and other domestic tournaments where you have to face only average players with out any international standards.we have lots of examples in front of us.chek how many players came from only renji performance and what is the present status of them an players came from this sort of competition like kohli,raina,yuvraj,zaheer etc,....any way best luck for the indian team for the world cup triumph

  • Android on February 8, 2014, 8:18 GMT

    Best wishes to indian team

  • Unni on February 8, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    Kuldeep yadav should be groomed properly,what India lacks after Kumble's retirement is an unorthodox spinner who could clean up the tail or take wickets in the middle overs of ODIs.So a Left arm chinamen bowler will be very usefull as it is a rarity in cricket and because of that only Brad Hogg is still playing in his 40s

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