Kwena Maphaka of South Africa bowls at Ryan Simbi of Zimbabwe during the ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup South Africa 2024 Super Six match between Zimbabwe and South Africa at JB Marks Oval on January 31, 2024 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
Image: Michael Steele-ICC/ICC via Getty Images
Australia defeated India in the finals to lift the ICC U-19 World Cup 2024 on February 11. The tournament dates back to 1988 but only eight teams were able to take part in the first edition. It was after 10 years, in 1998, that the event finally took off with 16 teams coming together to clash for the title.
Ever since, the tournament is held every two years and has been the breeding ground for young talent across the world. Many accomplished international stars like Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Ben Stokes, Babar Azam, among others, started their journey at the U-19 World Cup. Their performances in the event were noticed and largely helped them reach where they are today.
The 2024 edition, which was held in South Africa, was no different. It witnessed plenty of scintillating performances from various players, making it an exciting event to watch for cricket lovers. The conditions and pitches in South Africa posed an equal challenge for both bowlers and batters, ensuring the young players get the much-needed exposure.
Although quite a few players stood out in the 24-day-long event, here we bring to you the top five players whose performances were a testament to what their future could hold. These five players have the potential to become future stars if they continue playing like this.
1. Kwena Maphaka (South Africa)
Left-arm fast bowlers are always in the game, especially if they are pacy and can swing it well. South Africa’s Kwena Maphaka ticks all the boxes and has the ingredients to make it big. A smooth run-up, simple action and proper delivery stride help him generate good pace and swing the ball both ways. He was exceptional throughout the tournament, picking wickets upfront, in middle overs and at the death.
The pacer started the U-19 World Cup with a five-wicket haul against West Indies and continued to be amongst wickets till the very end. He picked up a total of 21 wickets in 6 matches at a brilliant economy of 3.81. Maphaka displayed a wide range of skills in his bowling. His ability to bowl as per the situation– yorkers and slower balls in the death and seam-ups at the top– made him stand out from the rest. The young gun bagged player of the tournament award for his consistent performances and could definitely be an upcoming star for Proteas.
Musheer Khan of India celebrates their century during the ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup South Africa 2024 match between India and Ireland at Mangaung Oval on January 25, 2024 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Image: Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images
2. Musheer Khan (India)
Continuing the legacy of his elder brother Sarfaraz Khan, who was one of the highest run-getters in the 2016 U-19 World Cup, Musheer Khan returned with brilliant numbers in the ICC U-19 World Cup 2024. The right-handed batter scored 360 runs in seven matches at an excellent average of 60, including two hundreds. He also looked impressive with his left-arm spin, picking up seven wickets at an economy of 3.63.
Khan presented himself as an all-round batter while batting at the crucial number three position for India. He started his innings cautiously and once set, he would play shots all around the park. His sweep shots and hits straight down the ground were eye-catching and gave a sense of what the youngster brings to the table.
Similarly, while bowling, he was canny enough to restrict batters from scoring easy runs. His tight bowling ensured other bowlers around him could cash in and take wickets. Khan has all the skills needed to become a future all-rounder for India. All he needs is to convert it to the senior level.
Hugh Weibgen of Australia plays a shot during the ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup South Africa 2024 Final between India and Australia at Willowmoore Park on February 11, 2024 in Benoni, South Africa.
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3. Hugh Weibgen (Australia)
You rarely get to see major individual performances in world tournaments by Australia. They play as a team and have different heroes for different matches– the major reason behind their success in World Cups. However, Hugh Weibgen was one of those players who produced consistent good performances with the bat for Aussies in the U-19 World Cup 2024. He made 304 runs in 7 matches at an impressive average of 50.66, ending as the fourth highest run-getter in the event.
Weibgen not only left a mark with his bat but his decision-making and overall leadership skills were top-notch too. He batted at number three for Australia and made other batters play around him. The right-handed batter although contributed in almost every match, his knock of 120 runs against England remained his best. Weibgen mixed aggression with maturity and took risks only when required. He could well be a future star for Australia, given the talent and temperament he possesses at this young age.
Ubaid Shah of Pakistan looks on during the ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup South Africa 2024 match between Pakistan and New Zealand at Buffalo Park on January 27, 2024 in East London, South Africa.
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4. Ubaid Shah (Pakistan)
Pakistan and fast-bowling is a match made in heaven. Right from Imran Khan’s days to now, the team has kept producing exciting pace bowlers every now and then. With most of the past and present starts being fast bowlers, the young generation of Pakistan is also trying to replicate the same. Among a few new exciting prospects, Ubaid Shah seems to be the most attractive.
Interesingtly, his elder brother Naseem Shah is already serving the Pakistan senior team while other brother Husnain Shah is also playing domestic cricket. The Shah family has fast-bowling in the blood and Ubaid is on his way to make it big. The right-arm pacer has a beautiful skiddy action– almost like Naseem Shah– and bowls at quite some speed. There is a bit of lateral movement and a lot of aggression in his bowling, giving a sense that he could be Pakistan’s next star pacer. Shah picked up 18 wickets in 6 wickets to emerge as the third top wicket-taker in the tournament.
Sachin Dhas of India raises his bat and helmet as he celebrates after reaching his century during the ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup South Africa 2024 Super Six match between India and Nepal at Mangaung Oval on February 02, 2024 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Image: Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images
5. Sachin Dhas (India)
The modern-day batting is mostly about playing aggressive cricket and Sachin Dhas is exactly the kind of cricketer who fits this criteria. In fact, he is a step better– he doesn’t go berserk out of nowhere but reads the situation quite smartly before taking the aerial route. His game-reading and ball-hitting abilities were phenomenal throughout the ICC U-19 World Cup 2024.
He played some blinders, including a match-winning knock of 96 against South Africa in the semi-final. India was in huge trouble (32-4) when he walked out to bat but his counter-attack mixed with caution steered India to the finals of the tournament. Named after Sachin Tendulkar by his father, Dhas has the potential to go a long way. His skill-set and calm head could hugely help him replicate this at the senior level. It would be interesting to see how the youngster takes it through since many of the potential players lose the sight in the transition. Honourable Mentions: Uday Saharan (India), Harry Dixon (Australia), Tazeem Chaudry Ali (England)