India, five-time champions of the Men’s Under-19 World Cup, have never hosted the tournament. Introduced in 1988, as the Youth Cricket World Cup, ICC has since organised the biennial event 15 times, including the ongoing edition in South Africa. In the women’s division, a U19 T20 World Cup was staged in 2023. Yet, India, who have produced umpteen talented cricketers from the U19 tournament, which includes the likes of Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, never staged the junior World Cup.
The tournament has been hosted three times each by South Africa and New Zealand, while Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have staged it twice. West Indies, and associate nations in Malaysia and UAE have hosted it once each. The edition, in 2026, will be held in Zimbabwe and Namibia. South Africa had also hosted the inaugural U19 Women’s T20 World Cup in 2023.
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Speaking to RevSportz ahead of India’s Men’s U19 World Cup final against Australia in Benoni on Sunday, former BCCI president Sourav Ganguly initially explained it as an act of taking the sport to countries where the senior World Cups are hosted less often. The former India captain, who was also previously part of the ICC Board, which approved the Future Tour Program (FTP), then labelled the U19 World Cup as a non-profit tournament for host countries.
“There is no particular reason to it (India not hosting the U-19 World Cup). The other World Cups are played in India. What’s wrong if this one is played in places where the senior World Cups don’t take place that often? It’s one way of taking the game to other countries,” Ganguly said.
“You can say it’s a loss-making tournament. Most World Cups not featuring the senior men’s teams are non-profit. But that’s not the reason the U-19 World Cup hasn’t been played in India. And I think it’s going to be held in India,” he added.
Ganguly’s comment came on the eve of India’s final against Australia at Willowmoore Park. The defending champions, having overcome a stiff battle against hosts South Africa in the semifinal, will be aiming for an unprecedented sixth title, while Australia, who beat Pakistan by a wicket in the second semifinal, will be looking for their fourth title.