CHENNAI: Performing consistently in any global event is no mean task. It’s even more difficult in an Under-19 tournament, given the new pool of players that come through every two years.
As India — the most successful team at this level with four World Cups — prepare for their campaign that begins on January 15 against South Africa at Providence Stadium, Guyana, the seven-time finalists are trying not to be burdened by the past record.
“There’s a huge legacy because of the past tournaments and how the Indian team have done in them,” said head coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar at the pre-tournament press conference on Thursday, before adding, “but you have to understand every U-19 WC has a set of new guys. You don't have anyone who has played before. In a way, you are starting fresh.”
Aiming to take it one day at a time, he added that the players have to focus on what’s important at the moment and try not to think about trophies or future aspirations. Echoing similar thoughts, skipper Yash Dhull said: “pressure will be there in every game. We will try and enjoy such situations and hopefully, it will help us. We have to approach one game after another in these tournaments.”
As with the other sports, their schedule also took a hit due to the pandemic. Going into the tournament, the players have featured in a tri-series involving the U-19 sides of India A, India B and Bangladesh. It was followed by the ACC U-19 Asia Cup, which they won. Despite the limited match-time, Kanitkar said that they are confident of trying to make the best of the time they have had as it’s the reality they have to deal with.
On the role of skipper Dhull in the side, he said that the top-order bat from Delhi is capable of taking tough calls on the field, adding, “he’s pretty instinctive and I think his instincts are fine-tuned well that he’s able to do justice to his job.”
Rajvardhan Hangargekar is one of the names in focus as the fast bowling all-rounder from Maharashtra has already made a significant impact both with bat and ball at the Asia Cup. Calling him an exciting prospect, Kanitkar said that the 19-year-old could get the ball through quickly and also has a good bouncer and yorker. “He’s not a bad batter. You will find out during the tournament. He’s got the right attitude and is very keen to do well in the tournament.”
India have done well in both their warm-ups, beating hosts West Indies and Australia convincingly. India might actually go on and get their hands on the trophy for the fifth time if they were able to keep aside the pressure of past performances and execute their plans to perfection.
Squad: Yash Dhull (C), SK Rasheed (VC), Harnoor Singh, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Nishant Sindhu, Siddarth Yadav, Aneeshwar Gautam, Dinesh Bana (wk), Aaradhya Yadav (wk), Raj Angad Bawa, Manav Parakh, Kaushal Tambe, RS Hangargekar, Vasu Vats, Vicky Ostwal, Ravikumar, Garv Sangwan.
Stand-by players: Rishit Reddy, Uday Saharan, Ansh Gosai, Amrit Raj Upadhyay, PM Singh Rathore.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)