With ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup around the corner, Indian skipper Virat Kohli has spoken about his experience of the Under-19 World Cup, how the prestigious event had been an important milestone in his path-breaking career and also advised the junior Indian team to "respect the opportunity".
“The ICC U-19 World Cup was a very important milestone in my career. It helped us get a good platform to build on and make our careers from thereon, so it holds a very important place in my mind and heart. It’s very important to understand and respect the opportunity it provides you,” Kohli said in an ICC media release.
Kohli, who led India to victory in 2008 U-19 World Cup, recollected his duel with Kane Williamson, New Zealand’s U-19 team captain at that time.
Kohli said, “I remember playing against Kane. He was someone who always stood out in the team, his batting ability was very different from the other players who were around.”
He also spoke about the current captain of Australian cricket team, Steve Smith, “Steve (Smith) and I did not quite play against at the U-19 level, so I didn't watch him bat, but he has come a long way in his career as well. It is good to know that so many people from that batch, not just three of us captaining our countries, but apart from that a lot of players have played for their respective countries.”
Kohli also urged the current team of young cricketers to “respect the opportunity” they are getting.
Agreeing with Kohli’s statements, New Zealand skipper Williamson said, “It is a great stepping stone. Playing international cricket within your age group allows players to see slightly higher standards, the best of the best from the under-19 perspective, so (it is) a great tournament to be involved in.”
According to Williamson, youngsters should grab the opportunity of the U-19 World Cup that happens in every two years, since there is no guarantee as to how many will go onto play the senior World Cup that happens once in every four years.
“You don’t get many opportunities to play World Cups, obviously at the top level – it is once every four years, if you are fortunate enough to be involved. So, the opportunity to play at the age-group level is a very exciting opportunity and one that should be enjoyed,” he said.
The U-19 World Cup is scheduled to start from January 13, 2018 and continue till February 3 and will be hosted by New Zealand. The Indian team will be led by Prithvi Shaw and will be coached by Rahul Dravid.