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Australia claim fourth U-19 title as Team India batters wilt under pressure in tough chase

We didn’t stick to the basics and played a few rash shots. We couldn’t spend more time at the crease, says Uday Saharan

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 12.02.24, 04:37 AM
The Australia U-19 players break into celebration after their 79-run win over India in the U-19 World Cup final in Benoni, South Africa, on Sunday.

The Australia U-19 players break into celebration after their 79-run win over India in the U-19 World Cup final in Benoni, South Africa, on Sunday. AP/PTI

The India U-19 boys did almost everything right throughout the competition. But in Sunday's final in Benoni, Australia read the conditions better and trumped India by 79 runs to emerge champions of this U-19 World Cup. It is their fourth U-19 title.

In conditions helpful for quicks at the Willowmoore Park, India were never in the game once they lost Arshin Kulkarni, Musheer Khan and captain Uday Saharan with just 55 on the board after Australia — winning the toss and opting to bat first — posted a challenging 253/7.

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The Australian pace attack, led by Mahli Beardman (3/15) and Callum Vidler (2/35), were right on the money which forced the Indian batters to err. With the quicks not being too easy to get away, the Indians could have targeted off-spinner Raf MacMillan. Instead, MacMillan too went on to snare three wickets, including that of the reliable Sachin Dhas.

Dhas from Maharashtra went into the game with a 116 against Nepal and a 96 in the semi-final against hosts South Africa. He certainly could have done better than poking at a tossed-up delivery outside off-stump on Sunday. That dismissal turned out to be a killer blow to India's title hopes.

"We didn't stick to the basics and played a few rash shots. We couldn't spend more time at the crease. We had prepared, but couldn't execute," captain Saharan said during the post-match presentation.

Opener Adarsh Singh (47) and No.8 Murugan Abhishek (42) with the bat and pacer Raj Limbani (3/38) with the ball were certainly among the positives for India.

Limbani's accuracy and the inward movement he extracted off the pitch stood out, while Adarsh showed the kind of patience the other batters needed to show in such a situation.

India U-19’s Raj Limbani took 3/38 in the final.

India U-19’s Raj Limbani took 3/38 in the final. AP/PTI

As for Abhishek, he made one final attempt with his counterattack even after India were eight down for 122 in the 32nd over.

"Our U19 team played like champions, and one game doesn’t define the way they played this tournament. It wasn't our day, but we're proud of their spirited journey throughout the tournament.

"Keep your heads up, boys! We'll come back stronger! #BleedBlue #FutureStars," former India pace spearhead in Tests, Ishant Sharma, wrote on X.

Despite India faltering in the final step, skipper Saharan also praised the team for their overall impressive run in the tournament.

"It was a very good tournament. I am very proud of the boys as they all played very well. They all showed great fighting spirit from the start, so I'm very proud of them," he said.

"We've just got to keep learning and move ahead."

Speaking about his learning from this U-19 Cup, Saharan, the highest run-scorer in the tournament (with 397 runs), stated: "There have been a lot of learning right through. I have learnt a lot even during this game. I want to take all the learning and progress."

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