It’s considered the stepping stone for the stars of the future and 15 teams, including three-time champions India, would be aiming to discover their Virat Kohlis and Steve Smiths when the ICC Under-19 World Cup kicks-off in New Zealand on Friday.
From Kohli to Smith, most modern-day greats have learnt the ropes in the biennial event, which has gained significance with every passing edition. The boys not only become men here, they also become household names with millions following the live broadcast of the competition.
The event begins on Friday with Pakistan taking on Afghanistan, and hosts New Zealand facing reigning champions West Indies. India, eager to prove themselves after their disastrous showing in the Asia Cup, open their campaign against Australia at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui.
The tournament’s stature has risen to such an extent that a great like Rahul Dravid, the current India U-19 coach, would love to have been part of it back in the day.
“We never played this tournament in my day. After 1988 they didn’t hold the tournament for 10 years, so I’ve no exposure of playing and being part of this tournament. I tell a lot of these boys that I think it’s a terrific opportunity for them to be a part of this tournament,” Dravid had said in the lead up to the event.