WB STUMPS | 14 FEBRUARY, 2018
“We Will Miss Each Other”: India U-19 Squad
The cash-rich league is an icing on the cake come April.
Five years ago, when Prithvi Shaw smashed 546 in a Harris Shield inter-school cricket match, purists had started predicting him as the next big thing to grace international cricket from the maidans of Mumbai. But the little lad needed polish in his approach, which was sharpened by Rahul Dravid — the former India cricketer-turned-coach of the U-19 cricket team that clinched the World Cup at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Saturday.
The India U-19 team, led by Prithvi, beat Australia U-19 by eight wickets in the final.
Prior to the colts’ World Cup, Prithvi had made inroads scoring five first-class hundreds and three fifties. His morale and confidence helped him plan better as the skipper of the U-19 squad.
Prithvi clearly imbibed the calmness from Dravid as he thought it was necessary to form a huddle and have a pep talk with his team-mates before the chase (target being 217) began. It wasn’t a tough one but the 18-year-old didn’t want his boys to be casual. “It is a big match, it is a World Cup final; to see if everything was right, I told them to be calm, patient and build partnerships. These little things helped us till here,” said Prithvi, after laying his lands on the trophy.
If there was a turnaround, Prithvi knew he had to be answerable to Dravid who had been planning for the tournament almost six to seven months in advance. The former India batsman’s experience in New Zealand is also one of the factors that helped the colts. “Rahul sir has come here a lot, and he shared his experience about the conditions. Paras (Mhambrey) sir also explained about the bowlers, Abhay (Sharma) sir about the fielding. It was a great team work,” he added.
Now that the mission is accomplished, Prithvi and company will need to set new goals for the next level. The teenagers — who created a comfort zone of sorts preparing for the mega event together — may not have each other by their side in the senior’s team. Not all of them can make it to the XI. “This has been a fun journey. We spent nearly two years preparing for the tournament and now, there will be emotions when we part ways. But it’s a sort of a memory we will always remember. Even if some of us fail to lift the seniors’ World Cup, we have this on our side. The boys have backed me very well throughout this tournament. Even when I’ve felt under pressure, I felt the team was with me,” revealed Prithvi.
Manjot Kalra — the opener who smashed an unbeaten 101 off 102 balls in the final — also believes that the team is going to be missed. “We’ve bonded very well and we’ll all miss each other quite a lot. That’s the best thing about this team. Hopefully, we will meet in the senior team, but it’ll be difficult for all of us to meet together,” he said.
But the year definitely started with a high for the boys as a few of them landed lucrative IPL contracts.
Kalra and Shaw will be plying their trade for Delhi Daredevils — bought for Rs 20 lakh and Rs 1.2 crore respectively. Shubhman Gill went to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for Rs 1.8 crore. Fast bowlers, Kamlesh Nagarkoti (Rs 3.2 crore) and Shivam Mavi (Rs 3 crore) will play for KKR too.
There will be nervousness but the boys have battled it hard at New Zealand at the international stage. “I’ll go and play my natural game, and it may come off, sometimes it may not. I’ll have to go and practice in that format. If I make an IPL debut — I don’t know if it’ll happen or not — but I’ll be nervous. I’ll see about it then,” said Kalra, before breaking into celebrations to sink in the World Cup moment.