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05 February 201619:15 By Sidhanta Patnaik

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Day 11 Preview

As India aims to stay on course for fourth World Cup title, Dravid's boys will be wary of its surprise quarter-final opponents

ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Day 11 Preview - Cricket News

India aims to become the first team to win the ICC Under-19 World Cup for the fourth time.

India U19 v Namibia U19, Super League Quarter-final 2
Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, Fatullah

Seeing Sarfaraz Khan and Ricky Bhui lunch together on one of those days when India had a break from playing at the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016 in Bangladesh, it was not difficult to think of how different yet similar their career paths have been since they became India Under-19 team-mates.

Sarfaraz’s ability to produce crucial knocks under pressure in televised games in the 2014 edition of the tournament went a long way in Royal Challengers Bangalore fielding him in their playing XI in his maiden Indian Premier League season last year. Bhui, meanwhile, spent the entire 2015 IPL on the bench for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Indian cricket has changed so much since Virat Kohli was bought by Bangalore for the inaugural IPL after leading India to the Under-19 World Cup title in Malaysia in 2008 that it is impossible now for youngsters not to think about the tournament. Especially with the latest round of auctions taking place on the same day as India’s quarter-final against Namibia at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah – on Saturday (February 6).

And that’s where Rahul Dravid must come in. Dravid would have spoken to Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Avesh Khan, Washington Sundar, Khaleel Ahmed, Mahipal Lomror, Shubham Mavi and Mayank Dagar – all of them will go under the hammer on Saturday – and worked on their focus, and their priorities.

Twenty20-wise, Pant has presented his case the best both with his power hitting as an opener and agility as a wicketkeeper. The audacity with which he scored the fastest fifty in the history of youth One-Day Internationals (off 18 balls) on his way to a 24-ball 78 in a seven-wicket win against Nepal gave a glimpse of his range. Similarly, Avesh has been at the top of his game, bowling 120 dot balls in three games so far for nine wickets at an average of 9.33. While Kishan hit three glorious sixes on his return to form against Nepal, good all-round efforts from Washington and Lomror have allowed India to find the right composition before the knockouts.

An IPL contract may or may not come – before that, as a team, the Indians must do their best to make their team the first to win the U-19 World Cup for the fourth time.

Namibia presents a stark contrast. Still playing as semi-professionals, the boys are more used to watching the IPL on their television sets and not rubbing shoulders with the legends of the game in the dugouts.

But, having made it to the quarter-finals on the back of wins against South Africa, the defending champion, and Scotland, it has India’s respect and attention.

Namibia’s raw emotions after upsetting South Africa has been one of the most touching moments of the tournament, and it would not have been possible without Fritz Coetzee, who took three wickets and then hit the winning run in a tense two-wicket win.

Apart from Coetzee’s six scalps in three games, Lohan Louwrens, Niko Davin, SJ Loftie-Eaton, and Zane Green, the captain, have scored half-centuries, while Michael van Lingen tops the team’s bowling charts with seven victims.

India and Namibia have faced each other just once at any level. That game in Pietermaritzburg in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003 is best remembered for Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly hitting centuries and sharing a 244-run stand as India put up their first 300-plus score in the history of the competition.

Dravid is the only connection between that game and the quarter-final on Saturday. He would be happy if the boys under him, no matter how varied their route to the top, have a career even half as rich as that of Tendulkar and Ganguly.

Teams (from)
India U19:
Ishan Kishan (capt), Rishabh Pant (wk), Khaleel Ahmed, Zeeshan Ansari, Rahul Batham, Ricky Bhui, Mayank Dagar, Armaan Jaffer, Sarfaraz Khan, Amandeep Khare, Avesh Khan, Mahipal Lomror, Shubham Mavi, Anmolpreet Singh, Washington Sundar.

Namibia U19: Zane Green (capt), Petrus Burger, Charl Brits, Fritz Coetzee, Niko Davin, Sj Loftie-Eaton, Mushi Honga, Burton Jacobs, Lohan Louwrens, Jurgen Linde, Michael Van Lingen, Chrischen Oliver, Francios Rautenbach, Warren Van Wyk, Eben Van Wyk.