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    U-19 World Cup a stepping stone: Sehwag

    Virender Sehwag believes that the ICC U-19 World Cup prepares youngsters for the international cricket.

    Dubai: Indian opener Virender Sehwag believes that the ICC U-19 World Cup provides a youngster the confidence that he can compete against the best and hoped a few cricketers will graduate from this month's event in Australia to the senior squad for the World Cup in 2015.

    "I think whoever plays well in the ICC U19 CWC 2012 and keeps performing well in first-class cricket could also end up traveling to Australia for the ICC CWC 2015. I'm hoping a couple of guys will come through, especially for India," said Sehwag, in an ICC media release.

    "The players have a great opportunity to go out there, play with and against the best and perform well. They will be motivated and will get a lot of self-confidence. The players will also make a lot of friends for life during the tournament," he said.

    Sehwag, India's only triple centurion in Test cricket, 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.

    "Go there and give your best, just make the most of the opportunity. Try to win the World Cup for your country."

    On being asked what advise he would give the youngsters participating in the event, he said, "It doesn't matter if it is U-19 or emerging team, if you perform at that level you get the confidence that you can actually play and compete against international teams."

    "Mohammad Kaif won it in 2000 and Virat Kohli lifted the trophy in 2008. Maybe, this time, the India captain (Unmukt Chand) can lift the Cup again and make us proud. Every single player from the current India team is wishing the very best of luck to the India team in the U-19 CWC 2012," said Sehwag.

    The 33-year-old from Najafgarh, who has scored 8,178 Test and 8,204 ODI runs, played in the 1998 U19 CWC in South Africa and had a modest tournament by his very high standards. Sehwag made three against Kenya, 10 against Scotland, 38 against South Africa, zero against Pakistan, seven against Australia and 18 against England.

    He also picked up seven wickets with his offspin during the tournament.

    India failed to reach the Super League final of the World Cup after losing out to eventual winner England and Australia in Group A on net run-rate.

    "We played against a lot of top teams - South Africa, England, Australia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Pakistan - in that event. It was a great platform. Any player who performs at that level can harbour hopes of playing at the highest level," he said.

    "The tournament always remains in my mind because that was my first trip outside India. It was also the first time I played U-19 internationals. I was picked for first-class cricket thereafter because of that trip and very soon I played for India.

    "I will never forget the moment when I wore the India U-19 blazer for the first time. I felt proud that I was playing for my country," added the right-handed opener.