In Stats: Form, History Make India Favourites to Win U-19 WC Final
Undefeated India will take on Australia in the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup which will be played at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Saturday, 3 February.
Both teams have won the World Cup on three occasions previously – though the Indian team has participated in the final on one occasion more than the Australians. This will be the Indian team’s sixth appearance in the final of the U-19 World Cup, while Australia will be playing their fifth final.
The Prithvi Shaw-led Indian team are favourites to win the competition – not only because they have already defeated Australia once in the league stage of the competition but also because they have dominated the Aussies in recent times. The Indian team has emerged victorious in 9 of their last 10 matches against the Australians.
Times have changed, and how. Until the turn of the century, the Australians dominated India. But in the last 18 years, the tables have turned; in these last 17 years, the Indian team has given the Aussies few reasons to cheer.
Team India – Road to Final
The Indian team has been on a song and have dominated their opponents right through the competition; each of their wins in the tournament has been by a margin of 100 runs or more, or by 10 wickets.
On the batting front, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill have been the pillars; between them, they have scored in excess of 55 percent of the runs scored by the team’s batsmen. While Gill has scored at least a half-century in each of his four outings, captain Shaw has made two eye-catchy and stroke-filled half-centuries and contributed 40s on the remaining two occasions.
On the bowling front, Anukul Roy – a surprise pick to the Indian team (given he did not play in the U-19 Challenger Series which served as audition for selection) – is the Indian team’s leading wicket-taker. But it has been the performance of the pacers – Kamlesh Nagarkoti (7 wickets), Shivam Mavi (8 wickets) & Ishan Porel (4 wickets) – that has been a delight to watch.
So far in the competition, the Indian team has been able to bowl out their opponent on all five occasions; the Indian team’s bowling striker-rate in the competition reads a wicket every 22.1 balls!
Team Australia – Road to Final
Australia’s only blemish in the tournament has been the loss to India in their tournament opener. Since then, the Australians have notched four consecutive wins. Captain Jason Sangha is the team’s top run-scorer in the competition, while the opener Jack Edwards has scored two half-centuries in the four matches he has played. Nathan McSweeney plundered the PNG bowling attack and scored the only hundred by an Australian in the competition.
The popular rhetoric is that the U-19 World Cup should be seen as a platform to prepare players for tougher challenges ahead and that results shouldn’t really matter. How is that even an acceptable approach? Particularly in the case of the Indian team in which several players have already had a taste of first-class cricket? The Under-19 World Cup, like any other competition or in any sport, is played to win. And fans in India expect nothing less.
Can Prithvi Shaw and company beat Australia in the title clash and bring home the World Cup trophy? You can follow live updates from the India vs Australia Under-19 World Cup final here. The match begins at 0630 Hrs IST.