BENGALURU: Days after India’s U-19 World Cup squad was announced, the players arrived at the National Cricket Academy. For eight days or so, besides training there, they practised in Alur ground in the outskirts, where bowler-friendly pitches were prepared to help them get used to conditions that they will face in South Africa, where the World Cup takes place.
In terms of preparation, the management has left no stone unturned. Before the biennial event begins on January 17, the Indian team will play a three-match series against South Africa, other than a practice game. They will also take part in a quadrangular featuring New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
With at least seven games before the World Cup, the team management will get a chance to experiment with the combination. On the other hand, too many games at short intervals before the tournament could also have a tiring effect on the boys. Coach Paras Mhambrey, however, is looking at the positive picture.
“It gives us an opportunity to rotate the squad, giving enough break to players when they need that break. The conditions what we are going to encounter are different from what we get here. The player will get a chance to acclimatise to the conditions, to the wickets,” said Mhambrey.
“These games gives us a chance to experiment. So that in case we encounter certain conditions during the tournament, we are in a position to take the right step.”The last two times India won the U-19 World Cup, it was held in Australia and New Zealand, where there was more help for pacers than spinners. India’s main pacers Sushant Mishra and Kartik Tyagi have been amongst the wickets. Left-arm spinner Atharva Ankolekar is another the team depends on for wickets.
Batsmen like captain Priyam Garg, Yashasvi Jaiswal and all-rounders such as Shubhang Hedge, have all played for their senior state sides, which means they have a decent amount of experience as well.
They head for South Africa full of confidence, after winning a tri-series in England in August, the ACC Asia Cup and a series against Afghanistan after that. “These players understand their responsibility, they have played a lot of cricket. Gelling into a unit, that is going to be important. Into a tournament, it is important that we peak at the right time. If we can maintain this performance, this form going into the tournament, there lies the ability to be able to peak at the right time,” said Mhambrey.New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Japan are India’s opponents in the group stages of the World Cup. The teams will leave from Mumbai on December 20.