India have won the U19 World Cup on four occasions so far and are one of the favorites to win the 2020 edition as well.The Men in Blue have already made it to the semi-final of this year’s tournament by beating Australia in the quarter-final and will now face the winner of the match between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the semi-final.
The first time India won the U19 World Cup was in the year 2000. Mohammed Kaif was the captain of the team in that tournament and he led the side excellently, as India beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in the final to clinch the title.
But, where are those cricketers now who represented India in the final in 2000? Let’s have a look:
#1 Openers: Ravneet Ricky and Manish Sharma
Ravneet Ricky was the highest run-scorer for India and overall, the second-highest run-scorer in the tournament behind the former South African captain Graeme Smith.
Ricky scored 340 runs in 8 games at an average of 42.50 and a strike rate of 61.59, with two fifties and a hundred. The right-hander, thereafter, went on to play first-class and List-A cricket for Punjab for a decent period of time, but never got an India call-up.
The 39-year old is retired from the game, having played his last first-class match in December 2008. He is now working as a commercial officer at Air India.
Manish Sharma also hailed from Punjab and was the second-highest run-scorer for India in U19 World Cup 2000. He scored 257 runs in 8 games at an average of 42.83 and a strike rate of 65.72.
Manish didn’t have a long cricketing career after that as he just played 31 first-class games for Punjab before hanging his boots in 2006.
#2 Middle Order (Mohammad Kaif, Yuvraj Singh, Venugopal Rao, and Reetinder Sodhi)
Yuvraj Singh made an impact for India with both bat and ball in the tournament. The left-hander scored 203 runs in 8 games at a strike rate of more than 100 and grabbed 12 wickets as well, at a bowling average of just 11.50.
Mohammad Kaif, who was the captain of the team, also made useful contributions and ended up among the top 5 leading run-scorers for India in the tournament.
Yuvraj and Kaif got the opportunities to play for the senior team of India soon after that and both of them managed to have very illustrious international careers. The duo was the strong pillar of India’s middle-order batting in the early 2000s.
Both Kaif and Yuvraj have finished their international playing careers now. Kaif is an assistant coach for the IPL franchise Delhi Capitals and also a part-time commentator for Star Sports.
Yuvraj has been spending time with his family after retiring from international cricket last year, although he did participate in the GT20 Canada and Abu Dhabi T10 league in the meantime.
Venugopal Rao and Reetinder Sodhi also earned India call-ups, but their senior international careers weren’t as long as the careers of Yuvraj and Kaif.
Venugopal and Sodhi were inconsistent and couldn’t grab the opportunities they got at the senior level. Sodhi played 18 ODI for India, while Venugopal played only 16. Both Sodhi and Venugopal played in the IPL as well.
Venugopal’s IPL career was a bit longer than Sodhi. He played for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) in the IPL and scored close to 1000 runs. Sodhi played only three games for Kings XI Punjab.
Sodhi retired from the game a few years back and is now a part-time commentator, while Venugopal announced his retirement in July last year.
Lower-order: Niraj Patel and Ajay Ratra
Niraj Patel batted lower down the order and got the opportunity to bat in only 4 out of the 8 games India played in the U19 World Cup 2000.
However, he did his job efficiently and finished the innings with a good tempo every time he went out there to bat. The left-hander averaged a little over 66 in the tournament and struck the ball at a rate of 97 runs per 100 balls.
Patel didn’t play for the senior team of India but he was active in first-class cricket until a few years back. He played his last first-class game for his state side Gujarat in October 2015. He also played for the IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals.
Ajay Ratra was the wicket-keeper of the Indian team in the U19 World Cup 2000. He impressed one and all with his glove-work and played for India in both Test and ODI cricket later.
Ratra has an overseas Test century under his belt which he scored in the West Indies. It was the first instance of an Indian wicket-keeper scoring an overseas century in Test cricket.
The 38-year old is now a professional cricket coach and has been involved with the first-class sides in Indian domestic cricket. He retired from the game in 2015.
Bowlers: Anup Dave, Mritunjay Tripathi, and Shalabh Srivastava
Anup Dave and Mritunjay Tripathi had very short professional careers after the U19 victorious campaign in 2000. Anup was a left-arm spinner from Rajasthan and Mritunjay was a right-arm medium-fast bowler from Uttar Pradesh.
While Anup played just 16 first-class and 28 List A matches, Mritunjay played even fewer than that, making just 13 and 11 appearances in the two formats respectively.
Mritunjay played his last match in domestic cricket in 2004, while Anup’s final domestic appearance came a year later in 2005.
Shalabh Srivastava, who was a left-arm swing bowler, was the highest wicket-taker for India in the U19 World Cup 2000. He took 14 wickets in 8 games at an average of 17.57 with the best bowling figures of 3 for 33.
Shalabh went on to have a decent first-class career after that. However, even he couldn’t make it to the senior Indian team and eventually retired from the game in 2010.
Shalabh played 41 first-class and 33 List A matches for Uttar Pradesh and got 130 and 44 wickets in the two formats respectively. He also had a brief stint in the IPL with Kings XI Punjab.