Bhuvneshwar Kumar has the ball. Facing him, a boy of 15. Priyam Garg.

"He was standing two or three yards outside the crease while facing up to Bhuvi. As Bhuvi ran in, I stopped him and asked Priyam to look where he's standing. He went back next ball and stood out [of his crease] again. After the over, I asked him and he said, 'since the ball was swinging, I deliberately stood out to negate the movement'. Can you imagine, a 15-year-old kid doing that, against an India fast bowler? That is when his game awareness really shone through."

The narrator of the story is Sanjay Rastogi. That boy, Garg, is now set to lead India at the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa next year, hoping to emulate Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli, Unmukt Chand and Prithvi Shaw in lifting the trophy.

Rastogi, a Meerut-based coach, knows a thing or two about spotting talent. Many years ago, Kiran Pal Singh, Bhuvneshwar's father, brought his son to him. Kiran Pal was simply looking for something to keep Bhuvneshwar occupied with during his summer vacations; two months later, Rastogi went back to Kiran Pal to convince him that his son had a future in cricket.

Bhuvneshwar, of course, is now an elder-brother figure who returns to Victoria Park in Meerut's cantonment area to spend time with Rastogi and his trainees whenever he is in town. In 2015, one of the trainees happened to be Garg, all of 15 and just about beginning to churn out big runs in junior cricket.

Victoria Park had already produced two India fast bowlers in Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar, and it was quite natural that Garg had initially wanted to be a fast bowler too. But, Rastogi says, it was quickly apparent that there was something special about his batting.

Garg has been training under Rastogi since 2011, when an uncle figured out the youngster's interest in cricket. It was a World Cup year, and the 11-year-old Garg, who hadn't previously been much of a cricket fan, would be glued to a 14-inch TV at a nearby paan shop, watching every ball of India's matches.

Garg's father Naresh couldn't afford a TV back then. Losses in business and the loss of his wife - Garg's mother - around that time had left him facing not just financial difficulties but also the challenge of looking after three daughters and two sons.

He eventually managed to establish a small business: selling milk, delivering newspapers and ferrying children to and from school in a mini-van. The business has grown since, and Naresh now runs school buses of his own. Two of his daughters, meanwhile, have gone on to complete degrees in nursing, while the third is preparing for her Civil Services examination. Garg's brother is an instrumentation specialist.

There may have been no TV at home, but young Garg was somewhat insulated from the family's other difficulties. Cricket played a large part in this, and Rastogi's encouraging words about Garg's talent strengthened Naresh's resolve to help his son become a cricketer.

"I developed an interest in cricket in 2011 or thereabouts," Garg tells ESPNcricinfo. We're in his hotel room at a five-star hotel. Mid-August rains in Bengaluru have brought an early end to proceedings in the Duleep Trophy 2019-20 game he's playing. Garg mutes the TV while we speak, but he still keeps an eye on the action.

It's the third Ashes Test, and Steven Smith is batting. Occasionally, when Smith hits a boundary, Garg's eyes veer towards the TV. At other times, he speaks candidly about his childhood, and his memories of growing up in Parikshitgarh, 20 kilometres from Meerut.

Garg was in the running for an India Under-19 berth even in 2018, but missed out on World Cup selection because of a dip in form. He was only 16 then, and the selectors decided to give him time to get regain form and confidence.

"I knew I didn't score runs, so I didn't deserve to be picked," he says. "If I sat there thinking why I didn't get selected, I wouldn't have progressed. My family always kept me going, motivating me that if not now, maybe I will get a chance two years later. That setback helped me figure a way out for myself. My coach only wanted me to get better at every training session."

Garg was fast-tracked into Uttar Pradesh's Ranji Trophy squad on the back of his exploits at the KSCA Invitational tournament in Bengaluru in 2018. At Alur - where there are three grounds within the same complex - Rastogi remembers Rahul Dravid, the then India Under-19 coach, watching Garg's batting intently. Garg was the highest run-getter in that tournament, and he made a roaring entry into first-class cricket with a century on debut against Goa.

By the time his maiden Ranji season ended, Garg had amassed 814 runs in ten matches at an average of 67.83. It was the second-highest tally for Uttar Pradesh, behind Rinku Singh's 953. In 12 first-class matches so far, Garg has 867 runs at an average of 66.69, with two centuries, and a best of 206. In List A cricket, he's made 539 runs at 41.46 with one hundred.

The Under-19 tour of England earlier this year gave a further boost to Garg's young career. Since then, he's featured in the Duleep Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy. and in the India emerging teams.

"First-class cricket has given me a headstart, I think," Garg says. "Playing against quality attacks is a lesson in how you temper your game to different conditions. In the Duleep Trophy, Faiz Fazal was my captain. I learnt a lot from him, he was a model of discipline in how to carry yourself. I learnt a lot watching him, the likes of Priyank Panchal and Abhimanyu Easwaran - it was a great experience."

As Garg speaks of those who left an impression on him, he's also reminded of sessions with Suresh Raina. Upon his entry into the Uttar Pradesh team, Raina sat him down and helped him relax. "He made me confident, he came up and spoke to me," Garg remembers. "Raina bhai spoke of his growing-up days and how that time, there was a senior-junior divide, and how juniors didn't speak much. He encouraged me and all others to speak freely. That was a good gesture.

"Spending time with him and getting to know about him, his life - he spoke about getting a duck on [ODI] debut and what he was feeling at that time - has been really good. I'm thankful to him. His jujhaarupan (drive to keep fighting) is something I've learnt a lot from. If you want something, you have to have that commitment."

Now as he gets ready to take the next leap in his career, Garg wants to slow things down, and not get too perturbed or carried away by the attention that will invariably follow. He only has to look as far back as January 2018 to understand the pitfalls of the kind of attention the Under-19 World Cup winners got. An IPL deal could be up for grabs too, but for the moment all that isn't on his mind.

"I played a bit of cricket with them, that [2018] batch was amazing," Garg says. "I have fond memories of spending time with some of those boys. It will be amazing if we can win a fifth Under-19 World Cup for India."