India became the most successful team in ICC Under-19 World Cup history after the boys in blue beat Australia by eight wickets in the final to cap a remarkable campaign.
India’s bowlers were on top of their game in the first innings as they restricted the Aussies to 216 in 47.2 overs. Four Indian bowlers chipped in with two wickets each as Jason Sangha’s team never got going despite the top six batsmen getting starts. Left-arm spinner Anukul Roy finished as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 14 scalps from six games.
India’s batsmen then took over with opening batsman Manjot Kalra steering the chase with a sublime century to secure the fourth ICC Under-19 World Cup title for his team, the most by any side.
Here are the talking points from the final …
SPIN RATTLES AUSSIES
The spotlight was on India’s fast bowlers Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti going into the final but it was spin that proved to be the game-changer.
Left-arm spinners Shiva Singh (2-36) and Anukul Roy (2-32) not only kept the scoring rate down but also accounted for the Aussie middle order, dismissing top-scorer Jonathan Merlo (76), Param Uppal (34), Nathan McSweeney (23) and Will Sutherland (5). The pitch offered enough assistance to the slower bowlers and Roy and Singh took full advantage.
POREL IS SPECIAL
India seamer Ishan Porel hasn’t attracted as much attention as Mavi or Nagarkoti. However, he has something the other two quicks don’t – height. Porel gets the ball to jump off a good length and has surprised batsmen in the semi-final and final. He took four wickets against Pakistan in the semis with three batsmen out fending off deliveries that bounced higher than expected. Against Australia, he accounted for openers Jack Edwards and Max Bryant, with both getting out trying to force Porel through cover.
KALRA THE LEFT-HANDED VIRENDER SEHWAG?
Opening batsmen Kalra comes from the ‘stand and deliver’ school of batting. Keeping footwork to a minimum, Kalra likes to play expansive shots from the crease along the ground and over the infield. That he bats left-handed makes his batting even more pleasing to watch.
In the final, Kalra took charge after ‘star’ players Prithvi Shaw (29) and Shubman Gill (31) got out relatively early. He found the boundary eight times and cleared it on three occasions during his knock of 101 from 102 balls. A certain Virender Sehwag would be very happy to see a youngster bat with such freedom at the top of the order in foreign conditions.
INDIA’S TOP-ORDER IS TOP NOTCH
Before the final, Aussie captain Jason Sangha had said India’s middle order is not strong and hasn’t been thoroughly tested at the World Cup. In the final, the Aussies had India 131-2 chasing 217 but that is as far as they went.
Wicketkeeper Harvik Desai held his end up to allow Kalra to bat without any pressure. Another wicket or two and the Aussies could have tested India’s middle and lower order. But Kalra and Desai didn’t allow them that opportunity.
After a month-long cricketing extravaganza which has seen 16 teams battle it out for the coveted ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand, just two remain ahead of the summit clash at Mount Maunganui on Saturday.
Australia and India are the two last teams standing and there is little to separate the pair ahead of the final with both playing some excellent cricket throughout the tournament.
Coached by former stalwart Rahul Dravid, the Indian colts have been a revelation in the tournament with their dominant and mature performances. The Aussies have displayed some impressive cricket themselves under the tutelage of former pacer Ryan Harris and opening batsman Chris Rogers.
BATTLE FOR THE MOST SUCCESSFUL TEAM IN U-19 HISTORY
Both India and Australia have won three titles each in the history of the U-19 World Cup, more than any other country. Hence, Saturday’s clash will be a straight shootout between the two to determine who takes home the mantle of being the most successful country in the U-19 category.
Australia won the inaugural edition in 1988 before taking the crown again in 2002 and 2010. India on the other hand, have been winners in 2000, 2008 and 2012, and finished runners-up to the West Indies in the last edition at Bangladesh.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
The Prithvi Shaw-led India have been unblemished in the tournament, winning all their five matches so far. They were completely dominant in the group stages where they beat Australia in their opening encounter before making short work of Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe.
They also eased to victory over Bangladesh in the last-eight clash before turning over arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-final.
The Jason Sangha-led Australia have been pretty much near perfect in the tournament. Bar their opening match loss to India, they have swept aside all opposition before them. After finishing runners-up to the Men in Blue in Group B, the Aussie colts stopped England’s charge in the quarter-final before trumping Afghanistan in the semi-final.
Ishan Porel, India’s hero in the semi-final win over Pakistan, is a doubt for Saturday after picking up a slight niggle. There are no other injury concerns for Shaw apart from Porel and they will likely turn up with the same side that won against Pakistan.
The Aussies lost pacer Jason Ralston to injury mid-way through the tournament and will now have to make do without his replacement Aaron Hardie who has been sidelined himself.
India (Probable XI): Prithvi Shaw (c), Manjot Kalra, Shubman Gill, Harvik Desai, Riyan Parag, Abhishek Sharma, Anukul Roy, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Ishan Porel and Shiva Singh.
Australia (Probable XI): Jack Edwards, Max Bryant, Jason Sangha (c), Param Uppal, Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Will Sutherland, Baxter Holt, Zak Evans, Ryan Hadley and Lloyd Pope.
WHEN: February 3, 2018
TIME: 05:00 AM GST
WHERE: Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, New Zealand.
All eyes of the cricketing world will be on Mount Maunganui on Saturday as Australia and India clash in the finals of the 2018 ICC U-19 World Cup.
The future superstars of tomorrow will be on display as the two most successful sides in U-19 World Cup history battle it out in their quests for a fourth crown.
With talent flowing in abundance in both sides, there will be no shortage of interesting individual duels which will play a big part in deciding the outcome of the crunch clash.
We look at the four key battles ahead of the finals.
PRITHVI SHAW v JASON SANGHA
India U-19 skipper Prithvi Shaw and his Australian counterpart Jason Sangha are both batting lynchpins for their respective teams apart from their captaincy duties.
Shaw’s rise in Indian cricket has been rapid following his record 546-run innings as a 14-year-old old in the Harris Shield. He has since made his first-class debut for Mumbai and has already registered five tons in his maiden season. With scores of 94, 57, 40 and 41, Shaw has been in great form in the World Cup so far.
Born with Indian roots, Sangha has had an equally impressive start to his cricketing career. The 18-year-old has already registered his maiden first-class ton in an Ashes 2017-18 warm-up game for Cricket Australia against an England attack comprising of Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Craig Overton.
After a slow start to his World Cup campaign, Sangha has been growing in confidence with two half-centuries in his last three outings.
LLOYD POPE v ANUKUL ROY
In the battle of spinners, India’s Anukul Roy will be pitted against Australia’s Lloyd Pope.
With 12 scalps in five games, Roy is the third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament, one ahead of Pope who has 11 in four games.
Eight of Pope’s wickets came against England in the quarter-final clash as the ginger-haired leg-spinner demolished the batting with figures of 8-35, the best in the history of the tournament.
Armed with a lethal googly and straighter one, how India’s batsmen handle Pope will go a long way in deciding their fate. Roy on the other hand, has been super consistent and with an average of 7.9 and an economy rate of 3.6, he will be crucial to India’s chances on Saturday.
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SHUBMAN GILL v JACK EDWARDS
Shubman Gill has been the indisputable star with the bat for India in the tournament having registered a fifty in every innings he has played. He went one step further in the semi-final win over Pakistan with a classy unbeaten 102 as he notched up his maiden ton.
Like Shaw, the top-order batsman already has a first-class century under his belt even at this young age and will be the danger man for the Aussie bowlers.
Edwards on the other hand, touted as Australia’s best player of spin, has had a mixed tournament so far. He started off with a bang with a fine 73 against India but then tapered off before a 72-run knock against Afghanistan in the semi-final.
With no shortage of spinners in India’s bowling attack, Edwards will hold the key for Australia’s batting.