The superb triumph in the biennial Under-19 World Cup is a new high for Bangladeshi cricket, which has made rapid strides in the past couple of decades. The teenaged Tigers stunned four-time champions India to clinch their first-ever world title. Leading from the front, skipper Akbar Ali guided his team past the finishing line with an unbeaten 43. Though all of 18, Ali is a level-headed fellow who doesn’t let his emotions get the better of him. Amid the celebrations, he apologised for the unpleasantly aggressive behaviour of some of his teammates both during and after the final and reminded them that cricket, after all, is a gentleman’s game. Ali has a bright future ahead of him, along with pacer Shoriful Islam and opening batsman Parvez Hossain Emon.
The Under-19 tournament is regarded as a springboard for cricketers keen to break into the senior team. Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina earned their stripes on this relatively small stage before carving a niche for themselves in the big arena. For the record, Yuvraj and Kohli have been part of World Cup-winning squads in the junior as well as senior categories.
Despite the heart-breaking loss in the summit clash, India has every reason to be proud of its young guns. Yashasvi Jaiswal, the highest run scorer, was declared the player of the tournament, while Ravi Bishnoi ended up as the leading wicket-taker. India last won this World Cup in 2018, under Prithvi Shaw’s captaincy, with Shubman Gill being named the best player. Shaw and Gill have shown flashes of brilliance in the Indian Premier League. Both have been picked for the upcoming Test series against New Zealand, even as Shaw, who scored a century on his Test debut in 2018, is already playing for India in the ongoing ODI series. These talented youngsters need to grab every opportunity that comes their way. They can’t afford to rest on their U-19 laurels in the competitive world of cricket. Perform or perish — it’s as simple as that.
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