Under-19 World Cup: Emerging stars

The 11th edition of the Under-19 World Cup saw some of the best young talents from around the world showcasing their talent. Here is a list of 10 players to watch out for, in the next few years.

West Indies beat India in the final of the ICC under-19 World Cup in Dhaka.   -  Getty Images

Gidron Pope (West Indies)

Except for the final against India, Gidron Pope gave West Indies a great start with the bat. He struck fifties against England and Fiji in the first two matches and then played important cameos against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The left-hander biffs the ball to all parts; he is particularly strong on the leg-side and has the tendency to strike the spinners by going down the pitch.

Of the Chris Gayle mode, he also took seven wickets with his off-spin, and is apparently the man in charge of the morale in the team. One of five children, he was born in Mount Greenan in St, Vincent. He lives with his sister and is studying in college. He appears for Windward Islands and hopes to play alongside his mentor Darren Sammy in the CPL.

Sarfaraz Khan (India)

He is one of the most talked about young cricketers in India, and his performance in this tournament spoke highly of his reputation. Sarfaraz struck five fifties in six games and although he would have wanted one of those to be a century, it was a fine way to say goodbye to the Under-19s. He was the second highest scorer in the tournament.

He is strong off the back-foot, punching them past the off-side field while also pulling and hooking quite well. He has a big future ahead of him, in the Ranji Trophy and in the IPL where he played for Royal Challengers Bangalore last season.

Alzarri Joseph (West Indies)

He comes from a long run-up, jumps slightly high as he hits the crease smoothly and delivers the ball at over 80mph regularly. Joseph isn’t one to hit batsmen but he does follow Dale Steyn closely and wants to bowl full and get the edge, regularly.

Whenever West Indies bowled first in the Under-19 World Cup, Joseph running out of the morning mist was one of the most thrilling sights. He ended the tournament with 13 wickets at 13.76, and was instrumental in giving his side the edge over the other teams, particularly in the knockout phases. He was coached by Winston Benjamin and has been advised by Andy Roberts and Joseph wants to meet Curtly Ambrose. They are all from Antigua.

Mehedi Hasan Miraz (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh’s captain impressed one and all with his strong mindset and sunny disposition. He always had a smile on his face and led from the front through difficult situations. All four of Miraz’s fifties helped the team get out of trouble, and his bowling too came at crucial junctures.

He is also a livewire on the field, and his diving catch in the opening game against South Africa was one of the best in the tournament. Miraz was adjudged Man-of-the-Tournament and called it a huge honour for himself and the nation. He is one for the future.

Jack Burnham (England)

He is from Durham and is a keen Ben Stokes follower and wants to make use of every opportunity available. At the Under-19 World Cup, he struck three centuries and ended the tournament as the highest run-scorer with 420 runs, 65 ahead of Sarfaraz Khan.

Alastair Cook had been his forerunner in the 2004 Under-19 World Cup where he did well in Bangladesh. Burnham did a similar job this time too, due to his temperament against spin and attacking intent while taking on pace bowling. He likes to play mostly straight but has proved that fast hands can help against spin as well.

Saqib Mahmood (England)

Another yorker expert, Saqib Mahmood has been quite effective at the World Cup, especially in the later part of the innings. He was also quite good at bowling flat in the Powerplay overs, ensuring England never really gave away the initiative.

Saqib gave a fine effort against Sri Lanka in the quarter-final but the team didn’t progress, after doing very well in the group phase against West Indies and Zimbabwe. He is a Lancastrian and looks up to James Anderson from whom he has received some good vibes and a lot of inspiration whenever they have met. Saqib’s next target would be to play regularly for Lancashire and get a shot at the England Lions team.

Mayank Dagar (India)

The left-arm spinner came slightly later into the picture, but he ended up with 11 wickets at a best bowling average and economy rate. He was deadly in the final, nearly putting West Indies in big trouble with his three wickets to trigger a mini collapse. When his 10 overs ended, Keacy Carty and Keemo Paul heaved a sigh of relief.

He will now go back to fight for a place in the Himachal Pradesh side, for whom he has already played a List-A match. A more refined bowling action might see him make it big soon enough.

Hasan Mohsin (Pakistan)

For someone who turned to pace bowling only in 2015, Hasan Mohsin did well to pick up 11 wickets at 14.81 in a major tournament. Add to that his batting skills, and you have a pace bowling all-rounder in the making for the Pakistan senior side.

Mohsin scored 293 runs at 97.66 in six innings, staying not out on three of those occasions. He struck a century and a fifty in the competition, and ensured Pakistan had a very smooth sailing into the knockout phase where it lost to West Indies in the quarter-finals. He also picked up three Man-of-the-Match awards.

Mohammad Saifuddin (Bangladesh)

He is an expert in bowling yorkers, and has done a great job for Bangladesh in the slog overs. He ended up as the team’s highest wicket-taker, and bowled with much verve which is due to his late movement into the right-handed batsmen. His bowling action is a bit like Aaqib Javed’s.

Bangladesh’s search for a genuine pace bowling all-rounder could be solved by Saifuddin, if he remains fit. As a left-handed batsman too, he can get better with more confidence and opportunities.

Michael van Lingen (Namibia)

He was not the highest wicket-taker in his team, nor was he the highest run-scorer but Michael van Lingen had more impact to Namibia’s unbelievable campaign. His four wickets blew away South Africa in Cox’s Bazar, as the team beat the mighty neighbour in what was the shock of the tournament.

In the same game, van Lingen walked after edging a ball despite the umpire giving it not out after a big appeal. He later took another four-wicket haul and struck a fifty against Nepal in the last game, marking him out as a potential big-time all-rounder. He said he would hope South Africa notices him first.

(The author is the Cricinfo Correspondent of Bangladesh)

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