Kohli-led India Colts start favourites

Published: Saturday, February 16, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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India Colts aim to repeat 2000 act when the U-19 side led by Mohd Kaif and studded with the likes of Yuvraj, Sodhi, Raina et al clinched the title in Lanka.

Under the guidance of taskmaster Dav Whatmore, who coached Lanka to ICC World Cup glory in 1996 and rejuvanated the minnows Bangla, the side will be strongly fancied to do well at the event.

The core team, with the likes of Kohli, Sreevats Goswami, Tanmay Srivastava, Abdullah, has done exceptionally well in the recent past. It carried on from where it had left off in 2006. India Colts beat England in England and then the title holders Pakistan in Pakistan.

The side undertook a twin tour of New Zealand and Malaysia at the start of 2007 squaring the two-Test series 1-1 and winning the three-match one-day series 2-1. They then toured Sri Lanka in July-August 2007, and won a tri-series that involved the hosts and Bangla, before comprehensively winning another triangular tournament involving South Africa and Bangla in Jan 2008.

Captain Virat Kohli admits that there is huge pressure on the squad. He said: "Hopes are high and the boys have talent. However, all the teams are good and none should be taken lightly. It is a question of which team plays better cricket than the other on the big day."

And with the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Mohammad Kaif, Uthappa, Suresh Raina and Piyush Chawla amongst the stars who have gone onto senior honours after playing at this event, the eyes of India will be on Malaysia to see who will emerge...

Watch out:

Virat Kohli: He made 373 runs for Delhi in this Ranji season at 53 apiece including his top-score 159 in Super Leage tie against K'taka. He averaged an awesome 72.67 for Delhi in the Cooch Behar Trophy - premier U-19 tourney in India - last season.

Shreevats Goswami: He has been in excellent form with the bat, scoring 104 against Bangla U-19 and 97 versus South Africa U-19, in the tri-series in Pretoria in Jan 2008. Goswami, yet to make first-class debut, has been a prolific run-scorer in age-group events.

Tanmay Srivastava: Left-handed batsman from UP for he has got sound technique and been a consistant run-getter for his state and U-19 sides. He has scored 655 Ranji runs at an average of 33. He knows the Malaysian conditions better as he had toured with U-19 side last year and was among runs too with 171 runs at an average of 85.50.

Iqbal Abdulla is a left-arm spinner who made his first class debut for Mumbai last season has the ability to spin some victory tales for India. He can also be a handy with the bat in lower order. He plucked 16 Ranji wickets in the six games and scored 125 runs including a fifty. He took 21 wickets for Mumbai in the Cooch Behar Trophy in 2006-07.

Also watch out for Jharkhand batsman Saurabh Tiwary, batting all-rounder Ravinder Jadeja of Saurashtra. The heartening thing about this squad is most of the players can bat and bowl. No they are not-bits-and-pieces players. Their are batsman who can bowl and bowlers who can wield bat with some distinction.

Squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Abhinav Mukund, Ajitesh Argal, Shreevats Goswami, Tanmay Srivastava, Manish Pandey, Taruwar Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Saurabh Tiwary, Duvvarapu Siva Kumar, Pradeep Sanghwan, Siddharth Kaul, Einstein Napoleon, Perry Goyal, Sayyed Abudllah Iqbal.

India Colts record in U-19 World Cup:

Played: 41; Won: 28; Lost: 12; Tie: 0; No Result: 1.

1988: 6th place; 1998: 3rd; 2000: Champions; 2002: Semi-final; 2004: Semi-final; 2006: R-up.


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