A tournament that began in the humblest of fashions in 1988 -- when the likes of Viv Richards, Imran Khan and Allan Border still ruled the cricketing world -- has now become the primary event through which the superstars of tomorrow serve notice of their talent.
That statement has ample evidence to back it. Some of the greatest cricketers of the past 30 years have had their starts in the youth event -- from Brian Lara in 1988 to Virat Kohli in 2008.
From a Bangladeshi perspective, the Under-19 World Cup has provided first glimpses of Mohammad Ashraful, Mahmudullah Riyad, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal. Even when the national team were whipping boys in international cricket, the youths were making a better fist of it. Debuting in the second edition in 1998, the young Tigers won the Plate League, a feat they repeated at home in 2004 to the delight of their supporters. Their best result was the third-placed finish in the 2016 event, the second time the country hosted the event.
The young Tigers face a tougher task in the 12th edition getting underway tomorrow in the unfamiliar conditions of New Zealand, where they will open their campaign with a match against Namibia. The team led by Saif Hassan has not had the best lead-up with one of their two practice matches being washed out and losing the other to Afghanistan. Regardless of result, the event that will now be broadcast to 200 countries is a must-watch for cricket lovers as it will be a window into future stars -- both home and abroad.
STATS AND TRIVIA
The 2004 and 2006 editions gave Bangladesh four of its current Big Five cricketers. Mahmudullah Riyad played the 2004 edition while current Test skipper Shakib Al Hasan, former Test skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and the country's top Test run-scorer Tamim Iqbal.
Bangladesh's recalled opener Anamul Haque topped the run charts in the 2012 edition, scoring 365 runs with two hundreds and a fifty.
Current India opener Shikhar Dhawan has the record for most runs in a single edition, scoring 505 runs in the 2004 event.
West Indies' Donovan Pagon's 176 against Scotland in 2002 remains the highest individual score in U-19 World Cups.
Bangladesh left-arm spinner Enamul Haque Jr took 27 wickets in the 2004 edition, the highest in a single edition.
Sri Lanka leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis took seven for 19 against Zimbabwe in 2002 is the best match bowling analysis in the tournament's 11 editions so far.
24 batsmen who played in Under-19 World Cups for Full Member teams have gone on to make centuries on Test debut. Seven of them were from the 2000 edition: Michael Clarke, Shaun Marsh, Mohammad Ashraful, Taufeeq Umar, Jonathan Trott, Jacques Rudolf and Hamilton Masakadza.
13 Under-19 World Cup alumni have gone on to take five wickets on Test debut. Bangladesh's Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman and South Africa's Kagiso Rabada took a five-for on ODI debut – all three instances coming in Dhaka.
Australia (1998, 2002 and 2010) and India (2000, 2008 and 2012) have won the title thrice each Australia (1998, 2002 and 2010) and India (2000, 2008 and 2012) have won three titles each, Pakistan won the prize in 2004 and 2006 while England, South Africa and West Indies finished champions in 1998, 2014 and 2016 respectively.