U-19 World Cup a stepping stone to senior team: Dravid

Mumbai, Jan 21 (IANS) Legendary batsman Rahul Dravid has advised young players not to take the forthcoming Under-19 World Cup as the crowning achievement of their careers, but as a stepping stone for bigger things, like representing their respective countries in the senior World Cup.

The tournament is due to start on January 27 in Bangladesh. Three-time champions India (2000, 2008, 2012) are clubbed in Group D alongside Ireland, New Zealand and Nepal.

“These young players should not take the tournament as the crowning achievement of their careers but just a stepping stone for bigger things, like playing in the senior World Cup,” Dravid, who is also the coach of India U-19 team, said in a release on Thursday.

“They should enjoy the tournament and learn the nuances of the game and what needs to be done to perform in a competitive environment,” he added.

Defending champions South Africa will open their title defence against hosts Bangladesh in Chittagong on January 27 at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. The Proteas and Bangladesh are in Group A alongside Scotland and Namibia.

Group B comprises two-time winner Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Canada, while Group C includes 1998 champions England along with the West Indies, Zimbabwe and Fiji.

A total of 48 matches will be played across eight venues and the final will be held on February 14 in Mirpur.

“The event provides an opportunity to grow and learn, meet cricketers from other countries who you may go on to play against at the senior level for many years. It is a great opportunity for young players to be able to get exposure to the demands of international cricket,” the 43-year-old said.

“Touring at a young age exposes you to the outside world and helps you explore and understand various cultures. That will go a long way in the development of a cricketer,” he added.

Apart from the 10 Test playing countries, six associate and affiliate member sides — Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal and Scotland — will also participate after winning the various regional qualifying events.

“There are so many young people playing cricket in these countries. There is obviously a good system to unearth talent. In India, these youngsters get to play a lot of matches each year which helps to develop their game. But the last tournament was won by South Africa, which shows other nations are catching up too,” the former India skipper said.

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