Tauranga: In a repeat of the 2012 edition, three-time champions India and Australia will aim to outplay each other when they face off in the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup at the Bay Oval here on Saturday. Fresh from a 203-run thrashing of Pakistan in the semi-final, India set their date with Australia, who had comfortably defeated Afghanistan by six wickets in the battle of the last four.
While both sides have been impressive throughout the tournament, India will believe they have edge, being the only unbeaten side in the competition. Furthermore, Australia’s only defeat — by 100 runs — came against India in their tournament opener.
The Group B fixture saw India’s top-order batting fire excellently, with openers Prithvi Shaw (94) and Manjot Khalra (86) putting on an opening stand of 180. India made an imposing 328/7 from their 50 overs before their bowlers dismissed the Australians for 228 to secure a 100-run win.
Since then, Australia have been ruthless, beating Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, England and Afghanistan, with their bowling attack taking the full 10 wickets in each match. Along with beating Australia in the first game, India have defeated Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Going into the final on Saturday, all eyes will be on India’s stellar batting line-up led by the skipper Prithvi and the likes of Shubhman Gill, who has been the most consistent batsman in the tournament averaging 170. Shubman blasted 102 from 94 balls to bat Pakistan out in the semi-final and add to his scores of 63, 90 not out and 86.
In the bowling department, fast bowlers Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Ishan Porel will have their work cut out against a strong Australian batting line-up. Abhishek Sharma is another important player in the squad and he will, along with other spinners, look to aggravate Australian batsmen’s weaknesses against spin. Abhishek is also a hard-hitting lower middle order batsman, who can score some quick runs at the end of the innings.
On the other hand, Australia can boast of leg-spinner Lloyd Pope, who took 8/35 — the best U19 World Cup figures of all time — to hand the team a brilliant win over England en-route the semi-finals. Australia’s batting will revolve around the likes of skipper Jason Sangha, Jack Edwards and Nathan McSweeney. India previously won the Cup in 2000, 2008 (under Virat Kohli, now the captain of the senior team) and 2012.
Australia: Jason Sangha (Captain), Will Sutherland, Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter Holt, Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Jason Ralston, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh.
India: Prithvi Shaw (Captain), Shubman Gill, Aryan Juyal, Abhishek Sharma, Arshdeep Singh, Harvik Desai, Manjot Kalra, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Pankaj Yadav, Riyan Parag, Ishan Porel, Himanshu Rana, Anukul Roy, Shivam Mavi, Shiva Singh.