New Delhi, January 12 (KMW): India are one of the favourites to win the ICC U-19 World Cup 2018 in New Zealand but a difficult first game awaits them when they open their campaign against Australia on Sunday. Considered as the stepping stone for the senior national team, the U-19 World Cup does offer a good opportunity for the youngsters to showcase their talent on the big stage. India have been a successful team in the past and would like to win the tournament, an opportunity they could not grab in the last edition where they lost to West Indies in the final in Bangladesh.
This edition could be the one where the Indian team comes out as the best at this age-level. Most of the cricketers part of the Indian team have decent First-Class cricket experience, having played the Ranji Trophy in India. Captain Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Ishan Porel, Himanshu Rana and others have performed for their states in the premier domestic tournament.
Quality Teams: There is no favourite to pick between India and Australia given that both teams boost with some of the best age-group cricketers around the world. India have a prodigy in Shaw, who already has five First-Class centuries in seven games. Similarly, Australia captain Jason Sanga is no less than a star in the making. He scored a century against England in a First-Class game and became only the second youngest player to do so after Sachin Tendulkar.
Like the senior Indian team, this team will also banking on its batting in this World Cup. Shubman Gill has starred for India in the England One-Day matches where he helped the team win 5-0. He is a very fluent batsman at No 3 and can dominate the opposition with his wide range of shots, and the rate at which he operates in the middle.
Australia too have a formidable squad and will pose a stiff challenge for Shaw and Co. Apart from Sanga, they have Austin Waugh, son of the iconic batsman Steve Waugh. He is expected to be one of the stars of this World Cup.
Last tournament record: Both India and Australia are three-time champions of U-19 World Cup. No team has won the title four times so both have a chance to create history. In the last edition in Bangladesh, India reached the final and was the only unbeaten team in the tournament. But, they lost to West Indies in the final. Australia did not travel to Bangladesh for the tournament due to security reasons. After missing the last edition, Australia would look to do what they love doing in this part of the world – lift the title. Last two U-19 World Cups hosted by New Zealand were won by Australia.