Indian players and team coach Rahul Dravid celebrate with the trophy after winning the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup finals, in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, Feb. 3. India beat Australia by eight wickets to win record fourth U-19 World Cup. (ICC Twitter via PTI)
India lifted a record fourth U-19 World Cup trophy, Feb. 3, after an eight-wicket rout of Australia in the final, underlining their dominant run in the tournament and giving Rahul Dravid the biggest success of his coaching career.
India had all their bases covered with bowlers bouncing back to dismiss Australia for 216 from 183 for four at one stage. The highly-rated batting, barring a minor blip, completed the job with conviction as India chased down the modest target in 38.5 overs.
Cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly emphasized on smooth transition of the Under-19 World Cup winning players, who were impressive with their discipline and controlled aggression during their victorious campaign.
Delhi-boy Manjot Kalra emerged as the man for big occasion, scoring a sublime 101 not out off 102 balls and anchoring the innings after the loss of captain Prithvi Shaw and team’s leading scorer in the tournament, Shubman Gil.
With a fourth crown, India also surpassed Australia in the race of most U-19 World Cup titles. Prior to the final, India and Australia were locked at three titles each.
The team’s performance was also a fitting tribute to coach Dravid, who finally got his hands on a World Cup trophy.
Under Dravid, the side had finished runner-up in the 2016 edition in Bangladesh.
India’s previous title came in Australia six years ago when the Unmukt Chand-led team beat the hosts in the final.
The Virat Kohli-led side was victorious in 2008 and Mohammad Kaif was captain when India triumphed way back in 2000.
“Really proud of the boys and the effort they put in,” said Dravid as his boys continued with the on-field celebrations.
“Hopefully it’s a memory they cherish for a long, long time, but hopefully not the lasting memory and they have many more great moments and bigger things in future. I don’t want to mention names but everyone in the support staff has put in a great effort. We do the best for the kids,” the Indian great added.
In the current edition, India were the overwhelming favorites and they played like one, dishing out dominant performances one after the other.
The gulf between them and other teams was clearly evident. In the playing eleven of the final, India fielded five players with first-class experience while Australia had just one in captain Jason Sangha.
“I really can’t express what I am feeling now,” said skipper Shaw.
“All credit to our support staff, they’ve really been supporting us for the last two years, especially Rahul sir. He is a legend. And full credit to the guys as well. It was the final, a very crucial hundred from Manjot.”
On Man of the Series, Gill, and performance of other his teammates, Shaw added: “Gill was batting really well throughout. And the two pacers, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti were excellent too.”
Having lost skipper Shaw (29) and Gill (31), Kalra displayed commendable calm and composure to see the team through.
Harvik Desai (47 not out) provided the support Kalra needed after India were 131 for two in the 22nd over. The two shared 89 runs for the third wicket in what turned out to be a match-winning partnership.
Kalra, who had smashed a match-winning 86 against Australia in the tournament opener, was in devastating touch again.
He hammered the spinners for huge sixes and showed his silken touch by beautifully driving the pacers through covers.
In the end, he finished with eight fours and three sixes.
It was only fitting that he reached the three figures in the last over of the final. Desai hit the winning boundary, sending the team members and the packed crowd into frenzy.
Earlier, Jonathan Merlo made a solid 76 before the India’s left-arm spin duo of Shiva Singh and Anukul Roy sprung into action, limiting Australia to 216.
At 183 for four, Australia looked well on course to reach 250 in a high-pressure match until the Indian spinners engineered the collapse with the Sangha-led side losing its last six wickets for 33 runs.
Australia, who had little hesitation in batting first, were guilty of not converting starts into big partnerships.
Merlo and Param Uppal (34) were involved in a 75-run stand for the fourth wicket before the innings’ top-scorer shared 49-runs with Nathan McSweeney (23) to set the platform for a competitive total.
However, the momentum shifted hugely into India’s favor when Shiva (2/36) set up Sweeney to have the batsman caught and bowled, leaving Australia at 183 for five.
Earlier, India’s leading wicket-taker in the event, Anukul Roy (2/32), had sent back Uppal in similar fashion as offered a simple catch back to the bowler while attempting to play against the spin.
While Indian spinners delivered under pressure in the middle overs, the pacers were impressive again upfront and towards the end.
Hitting through the line was not easy as the surface was on the slower side. The best example of that was the dismissal of openers Jack Edwards (28) and Max Bryant (14).
Pacer Ishan Porel (2/30) got rid of both the openers who punched a rising ball straight to cover.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti (2/41), another find for India in the tournament, removed Sangha (13) with the one that moved away just enough to take the edge to the wicket-keeper.
Nagarkoti along with Shivam Mavi (1/46) also helped in polishing off the tail after Shiva’s accurate throw from deep had Baxter Bolt run out on 13.
Both teams went into the contest unchanged.
Tendukar, Ganguly, All for Smooth Transition of U-19 Players
“The whole team is exceptionally talented and have the passion and right aggression,” Tendulkar, who keenly followed the U-19 World Cup matches, told PTI.
“The young Indian team has a pool of talent and are being nurtured to realize their full potential. We can look forward to some exciting times for team India in the years to come.”
The Indian cricket icon was quick to give a piece of advice to the Under-19 World Cup triumphant team so that their talents are not lost in the transition.
“If they keep working hard, the sky is the limit. They will definitely have to push themselves harder and give their best in the transition,” Tendulkar said.
Giving full credit to coach Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar said the team was in safe hands.
“The way the team goes about doing their job with utmost excellence and passion speaks volumes about the hands that guide them. Rahul is doing a great job with these kids and deserves all the credit.”
Tendulkar was impressed to see the level discipline that these youngsters have imbibed from Dravid.
“One thing I noticed about the team is that they are disciplined. Dravid himself always placed impetus on discipline and the team has gained from his experience which has been at the highest level.”
Ganguly was impressed with Indian colts’ dominating performance throughout the tournament.
“Fantastic. Not only champions, but domination from game one. It’s terrific. I didn’t follow them much initially, but when I saw them (while doing commentary) I was very impressed.”
Ishan Porel, who debuted for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy recently, has been exceptional as he overcame a foot injury to bowl India to victory against Pakistan with his splendid four-wicket haul.
“What a fine semi-final and final game he has had. He’s a Vision 2020 product. Now we have to bridge the gap. We have to make them ready for the seniors. That’s why Vision 2020,” the CAB president said about their development program.