As the defending champions and the most successful team in Under-19 World Cup history, India is gearing up for a new campaign under the leadership of Uday Saharan. The team is set to face Bangladesh in their tournament opener at Bloemfontein on January 20. Having secured their first U-19 World Cup trophy in 2002 under Mohammad Kaif, India has continued its dominance by winning the championship in 2008, 2012, 2018, and 2022. Placed in Group A, India will kick off their journey against Bangladesh at the Manguang Oval before engaging in group fixtures against Ireland and the USA, with a talented squad featuring players like Arshin Kulkarni, Aravelly Avanish Rao, Saumy Kumar Pandey, and skipper Uday Saharan, India is equipped with the skills to go the distance. Kulkarni and Avanish, who have secured IPL deals, aim to make a mark before transitioning to top-flight cricket.
Uday Saharan, hailing from Rajasthan and leading Punjab across age groups, has shown promising form, scoring over fifty in his last three innings, including a century against South Africa. Mumbai’s Musheer Khan and bowlers like Aaradhya Shukla, Saumy Kumar Pandey, and Arshin Kulkarni add depth to the team’s lineup.
Despite the team’s favorable form, India remains cautious against Bangladesh, having faced a defeat in the U-19 Asia Cup semifinal in December. Bangladesh, having defeated Australia in their final warm-up game, poses a challenge for the Indian squad. Both teams are set to compete in a challenging tournament format, with the top three teams in each group advancing to the Super Sixes, leading up to the semifinals on February 6 and 8, and the final scheduled for February 11.