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5 players to watch in the ICC 2020 Under-19 Cricket World Cup


Under-19_Cricket_World_Cup_2020The Under-19 World Cup is back, 32 years after it first graced the world. The 13th edition of the tournament will kick off in South Africa on 17th January. First played as an eight-team tournament in 1988, the Under-19 World Cup in its current form has 16 teams competing for the title every two years. India have been the most competitive side with four title wins, while Australia have three titles at this level. As the 2020 event gets underway, we take a look at five possible breakout stars from this year's tournament.

Towhid Hridoy (Bangladesh)

The most-watched batsman in the upcoming Under-19 World Cup is the Bangladeshi Towhid Hridoy. The talented batsman is the top run-scorer in youth ODIs since the last Under-19 World Cup, with 1,144 runs in 27 innings at an average of 60.21 with four hundreds. Three of these tons came on the trot against Sri Lanka last month, a series in which he made scores of 82*, 123*, 115 and 111 at Chattogram.

This isn't the first Under-19 World Cup for the young batsman, as he represented the side in the 2018 event where he also scored the only hundred in the World Cup (against Canada). Hridoy made his first-class debut in 2017 for Rajshahi Division and plays for the Sylhet Sixers in the Bangladesh Premier League.

Yashasvi Jaiswal (India)

If a double century in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Mumbai wasn't proof enough of Yashasvi Jaiswal's unmistakable talent, the youngster has been racking up the runs in youth ODIs. Since the end of the last Under-19 World Cup in 2018, Jaiswal is the third highest run-scorer with 986 runs in 21 matches at an average of 58 with two hundreds and eight half-centuries.

In the warm-up game against Afghanistan, ahead of the 2020 event, Jaiswal scored a half-century before retiring out. Having made a mark for Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Jaiswal will be expected to lead India's title defence in the World Cup in South Africa this year.

Gerald Coetzee (South Africa)

The only player in South Africa's squad for the 2020 event to have played in the last Under-19 World Cup, Gerald Coetzee is an out and out pacer with a promising future. The right-arm fast bowler has played four first-class games already and has 17 wickets in the format. In List A matches, he averages less than 20 and in T20s, he has already made a mark in the Mzansi Super League with Jozi Stars. An all-format player already, the Under-19 pacer is a superstar in the making, much like Kagiso Rabada was in 2014. Injury concerns are a hindrance, though, with his 2019 MSL shortened due to a hamstring injury.

In the finals of the recently concluded Quadrangular series in South Africa (involving India, New Zealand and Zimbabwe), he picked up three for 19 against the India youth side at Durban. He is one player who could make an impression in this tournament.

Nipun Dananjaya Perera (Sri Lanka)

Nipun Dananjaya Perera will lead the Lankan lions youth side to the World Cup this year and is on the cusp of making history as a youth player. Dananjaya has skippered the side in 32 matches since the last Under-19 World Cup in 2018 and is a veteran at the youth level. He might well go on to become Sri Lanka's most capped youth player, going past Kamindu Mendis, Sachith Pathirana and Avishka Fernando, all of whom are already Sri Lankan national players.

Perera is the fourth highest run-scorer in the format since the 2018 tournament, with 915 runs, although he is yet to get a century. This event could be a big one for him if he can showcase his potential as a leader.

Noor Ahmad (Afghanistan)

Noor Ahmad recently made heads turn when he was shortlisted as the youngest player in the IPL auction at 14 years of age. While he did not end up with a franchise, the youngster, who turned 15 this month, is more experienced than most at this level. A chinaman spinner, Ahmad was first spotted by current youth coach Raees Ahmadzai.

In a series against the India Under-19 side in Lucknow last year, Ahmad picked up three wickets twice in two matches and was a threat to some of India's better players of spin. In 2019, the left-arm wrist spinner picked up eight wickets at 21.87 for Mis Ainak Knights in the Shpageeza T20 League in Afghanistan. While the Afghanistan side has flown under the radar in youth ODIs of late, Noor Ahmad remains one exciting player to watch out for in this Under-19 World Cup.

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