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Cricinfo looks at the promising talents to emerge from the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia
March 3, 2008
The players who performed best at the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia may or may not go on to have successful international careers. Nevertheless, Cricinfo looks at the promising talents to emerge from the seventh edition of the tournament.
"This left-hand batsman looks extremely good, doesn't he? He even scored a hundred in the Ranji Trophy final this year." Tanmay Srivastava's feat against Delhi was cited often during the Under-19 World Cup and he proved himself as India's most complete batsman with a run of consistent scores in Malaysia. At No. 3, Srivastava was the lynchpin; he had the maturity to change his game according to the situation. "At the U-19 level, every team has about two good bowlers. So the plan is to bat cautiously against them and think of accelerating when the first-change bowlers come on. You get about one bad ball an over; I try to score off that ball and attempt to take a single the next ball and rotate the strike." With this simple yet tremendously effective approach, Srivastava was the tournament's leading run-scorer, with 262 runs at an average of 52.40.
The word aggressive sums up Virat Kohli, the India U-19 captain, succinctly. He's an attacking batsman who looks to get on top of the bowlers and his attitude on the field is that of a person with authority. He played the innings of the tournament against West Indies -100 off 74 balls, the second 50 came off 24 - and scored 237 runs at a strike-rate of 97. He and Srivastava formed the crux of India's batting line-up; Virat's aggression complemented Srivastava's composure. The stand-out feature of his batting was his strength while hitting through the covers, and his preferred zone of attack was lofting the bowlers over the extra-cover boundary. As a captain he also made astute bowling changes, including bringing himself on in the semi-final against New Zealand. Watch out for him in the IPL.
No player at the World Cup had to bear as much responsibility as Wayne Parnell: he captained South Africa, opened the bowling and also played a vital role as a lower middle-order batsman. Parnell invariably provided early wickets through his swing bowling and finished as the tournament's highest wicket-taker with 18 scalps in six matches. Parnell had started his career as a bowler, but had gradually improved his batting. He scored 57 against Bangladesh in the quarter-final before ripping through them with figures of 6 for 8. He also showed the toughness that is a prerequisite for success; he performed superbly despite being affected by flu from the quarter-final onwards.
Tim Southee had already played two Twenty20 internationals for New Zealand against England shortly before flying out to Malaysia. The conditions in New Zealand are poles apart from those in Malaysia but Southee, who had also played the 2006 edition in Sri Lanka, adapted fast. He was the first bowler to pose a significant challenge to India's batsmen, taking 4 for 29 in the semi-final, including two wickets in the 40th over of the chase to give New Zealand a faint whiff of victory. Southee used his height and strong build to good effect, extracting appreciable bounce off a good length, and his impeccable line and length brought him 17 wickets at an average of 6.64 and economy-rate of 2.52.
One of the biggest disappointments of West Indies failing to make it past the group stage was that the world saw little of Kieran Powell. Powell is a tall left-hander who backs himself either to clear the infield or the boundary every time he attempts a lofted shot, which is nearly every other ball. He isn't a technically perfect batsman but the way he took a step down to the fast bowlers and lofted them straight reminded one of Chris Gayle. Powell's attacking approach did not fail him: he was the tournament's second-highest run-scorer with 253 runs at a strike-rate of 124, including three half-centuries. Those who had seen him bat before weren't surprised: Powell had made his Stanford 20/20 debut as a 15-year old and smacked his first ball for Nevis for a six.
Sachith Pathirana did not come to the World Cup with first-class experience. He plays his cricket for Trinity College in Sri Lanka, the same educational institution that produced Kumar Sangakkara, and has been a prolific performer in school cricket. His claim to fame includes a double-century in a 40-over contest in Sri Lanka and a successful season with the ball during which he took over 100 wickets. Although Sri Lanka did not make it past the quarter-finals, Pathirana emerged as one of the best allrounders of the tournament. He bowls left-arm spin and is an attacking middle-order batsman. He was among the top five run-scorers with 231 runs, including an unbeaten 97 in a play-off against England, and took ten wickets as well.
England had a poor World Cup - losing to India in the quarter-final - but their new-ball pairing of Steven Finn and James Harris impressed. Finn, the tallest player in the competition at 6'8", used his height to good effect - pinning the batsmen on the back foot and unsettling them with his bounce. He missed the match against Bangladesh because of tonsillitis; England lost, and finished second in the group. Finn picked up only eight wickets in five matches, but had a stifling economy-rate of 2.37. A little more muscle and a few more yards in pace will see him develop into a dangerous bowler.