New Delhi: Three-time champions India, who are unstoppable so far, would be aiming to create history with a fourth title when the Rahul Dravid-coached side clash against an equally formidable Australia in the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup. Both the finalists are the two most successful teams in the history of the tournament having won the coveted trophy thrice each. Also Read - IPL 2021: Why MS Dhoni-Led CSK Will Bid For Former Rajasthan Royals Captain Steve Smith in Upcoming IPL 14 Mini-Auction in February
But on Saturday, Dravid’s sprightly boys will be desperate to outwit their Australian counterparts and become the first team in the history of the event to lift the trophy for a record fourth time. Meanwhile, the promising Prithvi Shaw, already being seen as the next big thing in Indian cricket, will be eager to join the likes of Mohammad Kaif (2002), Virat Kohli (2008) and Unmukt Chand (2012) in leading the side to the U-19 World Cup title. Also Read - Happy Birthday, Cheteshwar Pujara: Twitter Flooded With Wishes as 'New Wall of Indian Cricket' Turns 33
Going by current form, odds are heavily in favour of India as they are yet to face a defeat in the tournament. The massive win over Pakistan in the semifinal will do a world of good to India’s confidence. After putting a total of 272 on the board, they dismissed the opposition for a paltry 69. Also Read - Revealed: The Unfortunate Turn of Events That Prevented Ravichandran Ashwin From Playing Brisbane Test
Also, India will have the psychological advantage of having beaten Australia by 100 runs in their tournament opener and have also won the previous two matches including at the 2012 final, which was the India’s third title. Australia’s wins against India in the tournament were in 1988 and 1998.
So far, it has been a collective performance from Dravid’s boys as every member of the squad has contributed to the team’s success in one or the other way.
India’s batting has been at its lethal best. While the openers — Shaw and Manjot Kalra — have given the team good starts throughout the tournament, Shubman Gill has been in phenomenal form at the number three position. In fact, all eyes will be on Gill, who has been the most consistent batsman of the tournament. He scored a scintillating unbeaten century against Pakistan in the semis and would be eager to script one more impactful knock.
In the bowling department, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti have been phenomenal, raking up speeds in excess of 140kmph at their will. But they will have their work cut out against a strong Australian batting line-up.
Abhishek Sharma is another important player in the squad to look up to and he along with fellow spinner Anukul Roy would look to exploit the Australian batsmen’s weaknesses against spin. Besides his spin, Abhishek is also a hard-hitting lower middle-order batsman, who can score some quick runs.
India’s fielding has also been exemplary in the tournament so far.
India U-19 teams have had a legacy of producing future Indian stars and this group of players has the potential to make it big.
Australia, on the other hand, would be desperate for revenge after their big loss to the Indians in the tournament opener. India made an imposing 328/7 from their 50 overs before their bowlers dismissed the Australians for 228 to secure a 100-run win. However, after that one bad day in office, the Australians have bounced back strongly and won four games in a row to make it to the final.
The Jason Sangha-led side’s last two performances signal that they have upped their game when it has mattered.
Australia’s 31-run win over England in the quarterfinal, while defending 127-run total, and a six-wicket win over Afghanistan, who surprised everyone with their semifinal appearance, clearly indicate that they are here to give India a tough fight in the summit clash.
India U-19: Prithvi Shaw (C), Shubman Gill, Manjot Kalra, Himanshu Rana, Abhishek Sharma, Riyan Parag, Harvik Desai, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel, Anukul Roy, Shiva Singh, Aryan Juyal, Arshdeep Singh, Pankaj Yadav.
Australia U-19: Jason Sangha (C), Will Sutherland, Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter J Holt, Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh. (With Agencies inputs)