The U19 cricket tournaments are the events which pave the way for the inclusion of youngsters into the senior cricket team. It is at such events that these budding players get an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of the whole world. U19 events have provided us with many valuable players. Cricketers like Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, and Kuldeep Yadav made their way into the senior team on the back of some solid performances in these junior events.
Often, the ICC U19 World Cup acts as a harbinger of the arrival of prospective senior cricketers. Since the last 10 years, selectors have been keeping a close eye on such events along with the domestic circuit while considering new additions into the team. After achieving success at the junior level, many players have made it big in cash-rich events like IPL, performed well in the Indian domestic circuit, represented India ‘A’ team in various bilateral or tri-series and finally made it to the senior team by impressing with their accomplishments for India ‘A’.
However, some of the players who were expected to be regular members of the Indian team in future have not quite managed to pull their weight around. These players gradually got lost in the midst of rising of other emerging cricketers.
Here is a list of 5 U19 star Indian cricketers who totally faded away
1. Unmukt Chand
Unmukt Chand. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
The captain of the Indian cricket team who won the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012 hosted by Australia raised a lot of expectations when he led the team to the title by scoring an unbeaten 111 in the final against the host nation. He was also the highest run-scorer in the entire event as he accumulated 246 runs under his belt in 6 innings at an average of 49.20. He also held the record of most boundaries and most sixes throughout the event.
After such an impressive show in the event, he was touted to be the next big thing in Indian Cricket. Parallels were drawn between him and Mahendra Singh Dhoni because of his successful leadership. Chand made his IPL debut for Delhi Daredevils in 2011. However, quite unfortunately, his career never took off. In 21 IPL matches, he has managed to score merely 300 runs at an average of 15 and a strike rate of mere 100 with a solitary fifty coming against Mumbai Indians in 2015. Even in First-class matches, he has scored only 3184 runs in 60 matches at an average of 34.23.
Due to his poor run in domestic cricket, Chand could never get a chance to play at the highest level. With his age already approaching 27 and many cricketers already making case for their inclusion into the senior team by scoring a lot of runs, chances for Chand’s addition to the team seem pretty bleak.
2. Baba Aparajith
Baba Aparajith. (Photo Source: TNPL)
Baba Aparajith was a utility all-rounder for the Indian team in 2012 edition of U19 World Cup. He immediately made headlines with his all-round show in the biennial event. He scored 171 runs in 6 innings at an average of 28.5 and was the fourth highest run-scorer in the tournament. He also bagged 5 wickets in 6 matches at an average of 35.8. His best performance came against Pakistan in the quarter-final where he scored a calm 51 in a low-scoring yet intense chase. His main role as a bowler was to restrict the flow of runs and keep the pressure up on the batsmen.
After a successful tourney, he became a regular in India ‘A’ side and also became a mainstay in Tamil Nadu’s batting line-up. He made a lot of contributions to his stateside with the bat; however, his off-break was sparingly used in the presence of more accomplished spinners. In 70 first-class matches, he has scored 3660 runs at an average of 39.35 with 9 hundreds and the best score of 212. In 62 List-A games, he scored 2122 runs at an average of 39.29 with 4 hundreds and 14 fifties.
Despite impressive returns in his initial years playing for Tamil Nadu, Aparajith was not considered for IPL. He was bought by Chennai Super Kings in 2013 and Rising Pune Supergiants in 2016. However, he has not been able to play a single match till date.
Gradually, his form started waning. He still plays for his state in the domestic leagues however; he is not included in the ‘A’ team for any bilateral series. With many all-rounders coming up in the younger batch for cricketers, time is critical for Aparajith if he is to make a place for himself in the Indian Cricket team.
3. Vijay Zol
Vijay Zol. (Photo by Francois Nel – IDI/IDI via Getty Images)
Vijay Zol is one of those few lucky cricketers who got an opportunity to represent his nation in two U19 World Cups. He played as a middle order batsman in the 2012 edition and was named as the captain for the 2014 edition of the tournament. He scored 151 runs in the former event at an average of 25.7 with his best performance coming against Papua New Guinea wherein he scored 72 runs. In the 2014 edition, he scored 120 runs and could not lead the team to the title as they crashed out in the quarter-finals.
He made headlines when he struck a hundred on his India ’A’ debut against New Zealand ‘A’ and also when scored a double hundred on his Ranji debut for Maharashtra. He was picked up by Rajasthan Royals for the 2014 edition of the Indian Premier League. However, he could not make his mark in the limited opportunities he got in the T20 tournament.
Till date, he has played 3 IPL matches and has scored 29 runs at an average of 14.5 with the highest score of 16. He played his last IPL match in the year 2014 and has been out of favor of all the franchises since. Even in First-class matches, he has played only 15 games and scored 733 runs at an average of 34.90.
Zol is still pretty young and can still make it to the Indian team. However, if his inconsistency persists, he may find himself pushed to a corner while other players make their mark in the International cricket.
4. Deepak Hooda
Deepak Hooda. (Photo Source: Twitter)
The batting all-rounder from Rohtak represented India in ICC U19 World Cup 2014. He immediately grabbed all the headlines with an impressive run in the tournament. In 6 matches, he scored 235 runs at a staggering average of 78.33 and an impressive strike rate of 94.76. He also scalped 11 wickets at an average of 16.73 with the best bowling figures of 5-41 against Pakistan.
After the World Cup, he scored a century on debut for Baroda and his exploits throughout the season fetched him a place with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. Soon, he made a name for himself as a player who could clear the fence with ease.
This reputation earned him a price of 4.2 crores in the 2016 edition of IPL where he was roped in by the eventual champions Sunrisers Hyderabad. Hooda’s statistics in the league don’t do justice to his talent. He has played 61 IPL games and scored 524 runs at an average of 14.56 with a single fifty. On the other hand, his performance has been particularly impressive in First-class cricket in which he has scored 2581 runs in 38 matches at an average of 46.92 and the highest score of 293*.
Of late, Hooda has not been able to live up to his reputation. He is already facing stiff competition for selection into the Indian team from players like Krunal Pandya and Washington Sundar. If he is to make a mark in International Cricket, he must buckle up his shoes and make every opportunity count.
5. Taruwar Kohli
Taruwar Kohli. (Photo by Peter Lim/Getty Images)
2008 U19 World Cup won by the Indian team was dominated by two Kohlis. One of them is leading the national team in all three formats of the game today while the other is still finding his feet in the domestic cricket. Taruwar Kohli impressed one and all in the 2008 event as he scored 218 runs in 6 matches at an average of 43.60 and the highest score of 63*. His performances were instrumental in leading India to the title.
After the world cup, he started playing domestic cricket for Punjab. In 37 first-class matches, he has scored 2303 runs at an average of 40.40 with the highest score of 300*. He made his IPL debut for Rajasthan Royal against Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural edition of IPL. However, he could not impress anyone in the 4 matches he played throughout his IPL career. In 4 matches, he has scored only 11 runs at an average of 3.67. Recently, Kohli changed his Ranji team as he migrated to Mizoram for the flagship domestic event.
In an interview to Sportstar, Kohli mentioned that at the time, he lacked the ‘psychological adjustment’ needed at the highest level. He kept focusing more and more on technique and not on the game plan and in doing all this, he wasted his formative years. With his age already crossing 30s, the unsung hero of the 2008 U19 World Cup may have run out of time for being selected into the Indian team.
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