Priyam Garg to lead India at Under-19 World Cup

Priyam Garg will hope to join Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli, Unmukt Chand and Prithvi Shaw, the India Under-19 World Cup-winning captains over the years, when he leads the team at the 2020 edition in South Africa in January-February. Wicketkeeper-batsman Dhruv Jurel, Garg's team-mate from Uttar Pradesh, has been named the vice-captain.

Garg is already a first-class regular for his state team. He finished the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy as the second-highest run-scorer for Uttar Pradesh, making 814 runs at an average of 67.83, with two hundreds including a career-best 206. He also featured in the Deodhar Trophy recently, top-scoring with 77 for India C in the final. He has played 15 List A matches and 11 T20s.

The 15-member squad also features 17-year-old Mumbai batsman Yashasvi Jaiswal, who has been making waves in the 50-overs format. During the Vijay Hazare Trophy in September-October, Jaiswal became the youngest player to hit a List A double-century, while also topping the run charts for Mumbai. In all, he made 564 runs at an average of 112.80 with three hundreds and a fifty.

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Atharva Ankolekar, another Mumbai player who has also been making headlines, has also named in the touring party. The left-arm spinner had helped India Under-19 defend only 106 against Bangladesh Under-19 in the Asia Cup final in September with returns of 5 for 28.

Karnataka's spin-bowling allrounder Shubhang Hegde, who recently led India U-19 for three games in their 3-2 series win over Afghanistan Under-19 in Lucknow, was in the squad too. He first impressed as a 15-year-old in the Karnataka Premier League and has a solitary first-class game under his belt too.

Tilak Varma, from Hyderabad, forced his way into the squad on the back of a solid Cooch Behar Trophy in 2018-19, scoring 779 runs in just six matches, including four hundreds and three half-centuries, averaging 86.56. In the one-day competition, the Under-19 Vinoo Mankad Trophy, he followed that up with 507 runs in eight games at 84.50, with one century and four half-centuries.

"We are very confident with the process and preparation we've set up," Rahul Dravid said last week on the sidelines of the series against Afghanistan in Lucknow.

In his role as the director of the NCA, Dravid oversees the progress of the Under-19 team and attended the junior selection committee meeting at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai on Sunday as a special invitee. "We have got a good balance in the team," he said. "Depending on the conditions in South Africa, if they aid fast bowlers, we have got a pretty good attack. We have got batting all the way down to seven-eight-nine. We have got spinners, if conditions suit."

The World Cup begins on January 17 with India slotted in Group A with New Zealand, Sri Lanka and first-time qualifiers Japan. There are four groups with 16 teams in all and the top two sides from each will qualify for the Super League stage. The final will be played in Potchefstroom on February 9. This will be the 13th edition of the Under-19 World Cup and India have won four titles so far, the most, including the last edition in 2018 in New Zealand.

The junior selection committee also picked a squad of 16 that will tour South Africa just before the World Cup for a bilateral series of three one-dayers with the hosts and a quadrangular series also featuring New Zealand and Zimbabwe. The only addition to the squad for those series will be Hyderabad's CTL Rakshan, who played three matches against Afghanistan Under-19 last week.

Squad for South Africa bilateral and quadrangular series: Priyam Garg (capt), Dhruv Jurel (vice-capt & wk), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Divyaansh Saxena, Shashwat Rawat, Divyansh Joshi, Shubhang Hegde, Ravi Bishnoi, Akash Singh, Kartik Tyagi, Atharva Ankolekar, Kumar Kushagra (wk), Sushant Mishra, Vidyadhar Patil, CTL Rakshan