Bangalore: Skipper Vijay Zol and coach Bharat Arun are confident that defending champions India will retain their title in the forthcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup in the UAE commencing Feb 14.
Revising the scene of their recent Asia Cup triumph, Zol said the team, most of whose members have been together for the past year, has bonded well especially after a two-week "boot camp" where the players were put through various team building exercises.
Going up against Pakistan, champions in 2004 and 2006, in their opening Group A fixture on Feb 15, Zol, speaking at a pre-departure Media conference here Friday, said the pressure would be on his team, but the players have been prepared well to handle it.
The 15-member team with support staff is scheduled to depart for the UAE Saturday. India are clubbed with Pakistan, Scotland and Papua-New Guinea in Group A.
“For us, it (match against Pakistan) will be just another game. Our focus would be on the process and our own team rather than the opponent,” said Zol, the only member of the team that won the Cup in Australia two years ago.
On his part, Arun stressed on the preparations, especially the camp where the players were drilled about their individual roles and responsibilities besides being put through several team building initiatives that will also help them to cope with the pressure.
“Definitely there is pressure, but the challenge is to overcome it. At the boot camp, we stressed on giving clarity to individual roles and put a process in place.
“We had some team building activities like rappelling and trust walks where the focus was on the process and learning to trust the leader.
“The players have been together for the past year or so and we have won all the four tournaments that we played in. We now have to raise the bar and improve on our earlier performances,” said Arun.
In 2013, India won the Top End U-19 tri-series also featuring Australia and New Zealand and then took the three-match bilateral series against Sri Lanka 2-0 before winning the quadrangular series also featuring South Africa, Australia and Zimbabwe.
The Indian colts capped it all by winning the ACC U-19 Asia Cup where they lost just one league match (against Pakistan) in the preliminary round, before beating the same opponents comprehensively in the final.
The Indian squad: Vijay Zol (Captain), Akhil Herwadkar, Ankush Bains, Ricky Bhui, Sanju Vishwanadh Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Kuldeep Yadav, Amir Gani, Karan Kaila, CV Milind, Avesh Khan, Monu Kumar Singh and Atit Seth.
Team management: Bharat Arun (Coach), R Sridhar (Assistant Coach), Biju George (Fielding), Sreenivas PR (Physio), Anant Date (Trainer), Ashutosh Dandige (Video Analyst) and RI Palani (Manager).