South Africa pace great Makhaya Ntini is absolutely ‘floored’ by the mindset of the India U-19 team which he feels is on par with their illustrious senior counterparts. Ntini has singled out new IPL entrants Yashashvi Jaiswal, Ravi Bishnoi and Akash Tyagi as players to watch out for during the three-week-long tournament beginning on Friday in South Africa.
“In terms of other nations, I’ve watched the India team in training and I look at those young fellows and how well they conduct themselves – it’s almost like they are in the tournament already and their tournament mindset has already kicked in,” Ntini told ICC’s official website.
The 42-year-old Ntini, who has 390 Tests and 266 ODI scalps, has been amazed by the work ethic of a team mentored by none other than Rahul Dravid.
“It was one of the greatest things seeing those youngsters training and putting themselves together. They were playing the game so well, and it was almost like I was watching the Indian senior team as they looked very slick.”
He feels left-handed batsman Jaiswal or fast bowler Tyagi looked like players who have already been groomed to play for India.
“I think the thing with the whole Indian squad is that they have already been part of the Indian system – they have certain players like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ravi Bishnoi, Kartik Tyagi and Akash Singh who are set to play in the IPL. They have already been groomed to represent India as a nation when they grow older.”
Ntini also picked a few South African players to do well in the quadrennial event. He believes if Proteas does well in the competition it will make a massive difference for the youngsters and help cricket to evolve as a sport in the nation.
He says, “I think South Africa have got some exciting young players – a lot of them have done very well and are ready to represent the country on the big stage.’
“Jonathan Bird is definitely one of the greatest young players in South Africa currently. He has been doing well over the past couple of years. Gerald Coetzee – all-rounder – he’s been involved in franchise cricket recently for Jozi Stars, which has really been able to benefit him as well as being part of the national setup.”
“Khanya Cotani is another young fellow who is doing very well, and he’s obviously the South Africa vice-captain – he’s the type of player who I’m really excited to see,” Ntini concluded.