Dubai: Ahead of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 in Bangladesh, Indian all-rounder Virat Kohli has recalled how his participation in the tournament has helped him grow as cricketer.
Kohli, who led India to victory in the 2008 edition in Malaysia, was also a member of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's teams that won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.
Reflecting views on the tournament, Kohli said the 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.
Describing the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup as 'competitive', Kohli 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.'
Former South Africa captain Hashim Amla, who played in the 2002 event in New Zealand and scored 191 runs in seven innings, also threw his weight behind the event.
'I don't think we have a better success story from the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup like we do in the form of Kagiso Rabada. He was one of the highlights from the competition in 2014 and today he continues to lead the way with performances for the Proteas,' Amla said.
Amla labeled the competition as 'important' and said that it helped him in understanding and appreciating some of the challenges and expectations that follow the path towards international cricket.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Test skipper Mushfiqur Rahim captained his side in the ICCU19 Cricket World Cup 2006 and was his side's second most successful batsman after Mehrab Hossain (196 runs) with 188 runs. He also dismissed eight batsmen behind the wickets.
Speaking about he home event, Mushfiqur said: 'It was an honour to captain the side. I had made my Test debut before the tournament and as one of the handful of international players in the event, there was this challenge to prove my calibre.
'Obviously it is the most important stepping stone for any aspiring international cricketer. You get recognised at this event. There is intense competition at this level as the difference between players and teams are nominal. This tournament is a brilliant scope to assess the future.'
Current West Indies skipper Jason Holder said he had great memories of the 2010 tournament in New Zealand where his team reached the semi-finals. Holder was the most successful West Indies bowler with 12 wickets at 17.75 runs per wicket.
'I remember being very excited about the possibilities before we left home to go to New Zealand,' he said. 'We had a strong and united team which played well together. We felt we had a good chance of becoming the first West Indies team to win the World Cup at this level.
'The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup played a big role in my development. It was my first taste of cricket at the international level with all the preparation and attention to detail that was required.
Elton Chigumbura of Zimbabwe, who took part in two editions in 2002 and 2004, said the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup was the best exposure to international age-group cricket.
The 11 the edition of the tornament will take place from January 27.