Dubai, Jan 13: Indian Test captain Virat Kohli, who led India Under-19 to victory in the 2008 edition in Malaysia, has laid stress on the importance of the junior 50-over showpiece event, saying the competition helps youngsters grow as cricketers.
As the 11th edition of the youth World Cup starts on January 22 in Bangladesh, Kohli reflects on the significance of the tournament. "A lot of players I played against in 2008, are now playing for their respective nations," Kohli was quoted as saying in an ICC release.
After leading a young Indian to victory in 2008, Kohli not only went on to represent Indian but was also a member of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's teams that won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.
As one of the very few cricketers to have won three ICC titles, Kohli has an opportunity to become the first player ever to bag the sport's equivalent of the Grand Slam in tennis if India wins the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 at home in April.
Talking of the 2008 tournament, Kohli said the live telecast of the rain-affected final, in which India defeated South Africa by 12 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method, was a game-changer for his young side.
"It was an opportunity for everyone to showcase their talent because the whole world was watching it," said the star batsman, who scored 235 runs in six matches at an average of 47 with one century.
"TV coverage helped me in a big way because people back home noticed the guys who were coming up from the young group, the next lot of players who had the character, belief and skill to make it to the next level." Kohli said the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup was a very good learning experience.
"It was competitive," he said. "A lot of players I played against in 2008 are now playing for their respective nations. You get quality players and you get an opportunity to show the world what you have."
Kohli wished the class of 2016 a successful tournament. "I wish everyone all the very best, especially our India Under-19 team. I hope they go out there and express themselves and show the world what they're made of and impress everyone."