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.
Shaw and his boy are on the verge of creating history for India.
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.
Australia have been impressive in the run-in to the finals.
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 are likely to go with the same XI that beat Pakistan.
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.