Considered as the stepping stone for the stars of the future and 16 teams, including three-time champions India, these teams will be aiming to discover their Virat Kohlis and Steve Smiths when the ICC Under-19 World Cup starts off on Saturday. From Kohli to Smith, most modern-day greats have learnt the ropes in the biennial event, which has gained significance with every passing edition. The boys not only become men here, they also become household names with millions following the live broadcast of the competition.
The event begins Saturday with Pakistan taking on Afghanistan, and hosts New Zealand facing reigning champions West Indies. India, eager to prove themselves after their disastrous showing in the Asia Cup, open their campaign against Australia at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui. The tournament's stature has risen to such an extent that a great like Rahul Dravid, the current India U-19 coach, would love to have been part of it back in the day.
The likes of India captain Prithvi Shaw, teammate Shubham Gill, Australia captain Jason Sangha, Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi, Afghanistan batting sensation Baheer Shah, they all go into the event after making a mark on the domestic circuit back home. Shaw, Gill, Sangha and Shah already have a first-class hundred to their name while left-arm pacer Afridi hogged the limelight by taking eight for 39 in the Quad-e-Azam Trophy, the best figures by a Pakistani on first-class debut.