Mumbai:Knowing very well that a good show here can fetch them a ticket to the national team, Indian colts will leave for South Africa on Sunday en route to New Zealand to defend their U-19 World Cup title to be held from January 11-30 next year.
"World Cup is a very big platform for us. Anything you do will get you noticed. It can make your career. A good performance here is like a ticket to the national squad," skipper Ashok Menaria told reporters here on Saturday.
"However, all these will count for little if the team does not do well. We will benefit only if the team does well," he said.
The team will leave in the early hours on Sunday first to South Africa, where it will participate in a tri-series that will also include the home team as well as Sri Lanka, and then fly to New Zealand for the World Cup that is scheduled in January next year.
In the run-up to the tournament, the team has undergone intense training sessions during a ten-day camp at the Bandra-Kurla Complex ground here, practised fielding drills under the watchful eyes of India's new fielding coach Mike Young, besides receiving a pep talk from batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
"Ours is a balanced team. We have good spinners, proper pacers, besides all-rounders and batsman. We are confident of a good show," Menaria said.
"Harpreet (Singh) is the pace all-rounder for us, while I'm the spin-all rounder. Mandeep (Singh) is the Symonds for us as he can bowl both spin and pace," he added.
Asked whether the tag of being the defending champions will be a burden on the team, the skipper said, "They (the previous team) have set a standard for us and we will try to match their performance. We will take it match by match and worry about other factors later. Our first target is the tri-series in South Africa."
Meanwhile coach Chandrakant Pandit feels that the experience of having been together for a long time will stand his wards in good stead in the megaevent.
"If you look at the team besides 3-4 players most of them have been together since they toured Australia in April," Pandit said.
"Preparation wise we haven't missed out on much. The team also had three important sessions with Sachin (Tendulkar), (Michael) Young, and a sport psychologist Dr Bhimaraj. All we need is to have a good start in South Africa," he added.