The decision of BCCI sending the U19 team early to New Zealand came as a surprise as even the international team went to South Africa just a week before the start of the series. It is Rahul Dravid’s idea, as per reports, to take the team early to New Zealand so the players could assimilate to the conditions.
“When Dravid came up with the request, the BCCI agreed. These boys have not played in New Zealand before and apart from the conditions, they will also have to get used to the changes to their daily cycle resulting from the different time zone. The board also felt the boys should get enough practice before they play their first game. So, apart from the two warm-up games scheduled by the ICC, they wanted to give additional practice games, which would be vital,” a spokesperson told the Indian Express.
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The Prithvi Shaw-led side has played in foreign conditions as well but never toured New Zealand, one of the reasons why Dravid came up with the idea of taking the team to the country two weeks ago.
Apart from the two warm-up games which team India will play before the start of the tournament, the Men in Blue will also play three games against Northen Districts team.
The India U19 led side, along with coach Rahul Dravid, departed for New Zealand on Wednesday evening. Skipper and Coach also addressed media before their departure. The U19 boys also interacted with the Indian skipper, Virat Kohli, who gave a pep talk to them.
In fact, both U19 and the senior team travelled in the same plane till Dubai, but due to different seating arrangements, the senior and U19 boys could not interact. Hence, a pre-departure meeting was organised between the Kohli and U19 players.
India U19 team will open the World Cup tourney against Zimbabwe. They face PNG and Zimbabwe in their next two league phase games. Before the start of the World Cup, India will also play two warm-up games.
India U19 team has won three junior World Cups title till now. The first triumph came in 2000 under Mohammad Kaif. Yuvraj Singh was one of the players, who along with Kaif went on to play for India. The next occasion came in 2008 where Kohli led the junior colts won the tournament. Ravindra Jadeja, Manish Pandey and Siddharth Kaul are the few players to make it to Indian team from that group. Kaul is yet to make his international debut.
It was in 2012 when the side last won the U19 World Cup. The Unmukt Chand led side defeated Australia in the final in Townsville. Ony Sandeep Sharma has played for India from that team.
From the current U-19 team, players like Prithvi Shaw, Shubhman Gill and Abhishek Sharma look to be favourite to make it to the national side.
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