The colts started off in a sedate manner but once they got used to the conditions, they gathered enough momentum to go the whole distance and win the coveted title. By W.V.Raman

The Under-19 team has always been a feeder for the senior Indian side as at least three or four youngsters from a World Cup winning side have graduated into the senior team. Hence there is great excitement whenever an under-19 World Cup gets underway.

The 2012 edition in Townsville, Australia, was no different. The colts started off in a sedate manner but once they got used to the conditions, they gathered enough momentum to go the whole distance and win the coveted title.

It is always tense watching the under-19 on the field as there is a fair bit of vulnerability that one tends to detect. At the same time it is a great spectacle to watch their enthusiasm, cohesiveness and the way they enjoy their game to the fullest extent possible. But the most conspicuous thing is that they enjoy each other’s success without any reservation. Obviously, they are not yet exposed to the push and shove of the professional world and there’s nothing much at stake in a way at least at that point in time. It is akin to seeing a bunch of guys at school and college having fun without a care in the world.

Despite the fact they are amateurs at heart, the Unmukt Chand led side displayed a sense of purpose that belied their age. The skipper did not even realise he had reached his hundred in the final until his partner Patel mentioned it to him. The young lad was so consumed by the task on hand that he was unaware of his personal milestone. Bravo, do we get to see this often? Not really.

There were some lead performers in Unmukt Chand, Aparajith, Sandeep Sharma and Patel but what really clinched the issue for the India Under-19 side was the contribution from the others, especially the bowlers, who did a star turn by turns as it were. The talent was apparent but the remarkable aspect was their approach. The lads never buckled under pressure and I wonder if they ever felt it as the skipper confidently inserted the opponents in the final! The confidence and exuberance of youth is priceless.

Now that the young lads have won the title, the opportunists will flock to them which can prove to be the biggest stumbling block.

The BCCI should get protective about the leading performers of the tournament lest they get entrapped by the management entities. The apex body has announced a handsome reward for the team members but that should be the long and the short of it.

The next stage in the careers of these extremely talented boys is the seamless transition into the senior grade. This will be on them before they realise it and the boys will be better off without getting distracted by the lure of money. Many creditable performers at the Under-19 level have faded into oblivion in this transit stage and it will be a worthwhile exercise to make Virat Kohli have a chat with these youngsters on how to get on with the game post the World Cup success.

He is the ideal candidate as of now for he has gone through the same journey and has worked out the formula to make it big in international cricket despite the various distractions on offer.

I have mentioned Kohli for the simple reason he did not take too long to transit into the senior grade. It was just four years ago that India U-19 won the World Cup and in a short span of time he has gone to be named the vice-captain of Team India as well. It is important to celebrate the youngsters’ feat but what is more important is ensuring that the abundant proven talent is not wasted due to lack of guidance. As the adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure”.