Dubai: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believes that India has benefited from the under-19 World Cup, as a number of top performers such as Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli, apart from himself, have come through these tournaments.
With 11 days to go for the start of the U-19 World Cup, which will take place in Australia, Harbhajan said, "India has been lucky to find some very good and talented cricketers from the ICC U-19 World Cups."
"I am sure this time too we will be able to find some cricketers from the tournament. Who knows, maybe in 2015, someone from the India U-19 side will be a key member of the senior team at the Cricket World Cup 2015. It is a tournament of immense importance for cricket in general and Indian cricket in particular," said Harbhajan, who played in the 1998 under-19 CWC in South Africa.
"I remember a lot about the 1998 U-19 World Cup. Even though, we didn't win the tournament, there were some happy memories from the event. I still remember we played teams like England and Australia and it was a good experience," said a nostalgic 'Turbanator'.
India failed to reach the final of the 1998 World Cup after losing out to eventual winner England and Australia in Group A on net run-rate.
The 32-year-old from Jalandhar, who has taken 406 Test and 259 ODI wickets, returned with figures of one for 52 against Australia, one for 29 against England and one for 26 against Pakistan in the three matches 14 years ago.
"It was the first time I was representing India at any level. The biggest learning for me from the tournament was the fact that I played in a tournament of 50-over matches. Before the tournament, I had played only four-day matches for Punjab U-19. This tournament was definitely a stepping stone for me in my international career, because shortly thereafter I played for India," said Harbhajan.
The off-spinner urged the young players to give it their best shot when they participate in the event which will be staged from August 11-26 in Queensland.
"I would only tell the players playing this time to go there to win the title. Only participating in the tournament is of no use. Go to win and that will pay rich dividends for your career," he said.
On being asked what advise he would give the youngsters participating in the event, Harbhajan said, "My advice is simple, make the most of this opportunity and enjoy the opportunity you are getting at this early stage of your career. Imagine getting to play in Australia at such a tender age, there is nothing better than that for a young cricketer starting out his career."