New Delhi: A new breed of young players is emerging in India, and they are proving to be some of the most influential players in the cricketing landscape.
India has seen a surge in the number of players under 25 playing international cricket.
This year’s World Cup saw a total of 17 players under the age of 25 debut in India.
The Indian squad for the tournament, which was hosted in Bangladesh, included 17 players aged between 16 and 20.
The tournament also saw four-time world No. 1 MS Dhoni, who was born in the country and played his first international match in 2016, and seven-time World Cup winner Virat Kohli, who has played in more than 400 matches.
India’s new breed has come a long way from the days when the country had a relatively small number of Test players under 20.
During the 1980s, when India’s domestic cricket was dominated by the Rajasthan Royals, it was a relatively rare sight.
Today, India’s number of domestic players under 21 is higher than the next-biggest country – England, with 15.
This has given rise to a new breed, led by players like Dhoni and Kohli.
This year’s tournament saw India’s players under 24 make their debut in the Champions Trophy against Australia, which also saw India captain Virat Tendulkar debut for the first time.
The team also featured a slew of new faces in the form of five-time Ashes captain Moeen Ali, who played for England in the late 1980s; seven-times Test captain Graeme Swann, who also played for the team, and five-times international captain Yuvraj Singh.
“Cricketing in India is all about getting your feet wet,” says Kohli about his time playing for India.
“It’s a little bit of a grind and there’s always that feeling that you’re not going to get the results you want, and you’ve got to make sure you’re doing the right things to stay relevant.”
Kohli’s tenure with the team saw him become the first Indian captain to score a century in his first Test appearance in New Zealand in 2011.
He also made his Test debut in 2007 and then the following year was named in the team for the Ashes in 2009, when he bowled six centuries in five matches.
This season, Kohli has made a career of bowling at the top of his game, bowling hundreds of boundaries and taking runs off batsmen, and he is one of the few players in India to make a Test century at the World Cup.
Kohli was part of the Indian team that defeated Pakistan in the quarter-finals of the tournament last year, and his 200-plus runs helped India win their first ever World Cup title.
The young batsman also scored a Test double against England in England last month.
“I have to say I am very happy for Virat,” says India’s skipper, who made his international debut in 2012.
“He is such a talented young cricketer.
He has the pace, the skills, the bat.
He is one that can bowl very well.
His team-mates have a lot of faith in him and I think we have a great opportunity in the coming months to win another World Cup.”
India’s young stars also help the team to win matches.
“Kohlu was very consistent in his batting and he was really good in the field,” says Swann.
“If we want to keep progressing in the international game, he is a player that we want on the team.”
India has now won its first World Cup championship since 2005.
It has been a very positive start to Kohli’s career and he has played well in India’s first World Twenty20 match in Delhi, where he scored a century, and the two-day ODI against England, where the young players bowled a century apiece.
“I have learnt a lot from my team-mate Virat this year,” says the 30-year-old.
“The team has changed a lot.
I’ve learnt a few things from him and from the coach.
He helped me a lot.”