The term 100% featured heavily in the pre-match press conference by India captain Yash Dhull. For a variety of questions, he pivoted right back to that notion. And one must think, if India really do end up doing that in the final of the ICC Men’s Under-19 World Cup in Antigua on Saturday, they will have a great a chance of keeping up their unbeaten run in this tournament, as well as extending their record to five titles.
The thing with the Under 19 World Cups is that previous records usually don’t matter much. Both teams have played great cricket to get here. So, the fact that India have made it to four straight finals in this event while England are returning to this stage for the first time since 1998, is just a nice contrast. For the 22 players who take to the field for final, that will (or should) bear no meaning.
While England edged out Afghanistan in the last-four stage, India earned a massive 96-run victory over Australia in the second semi-final.
One of the biggest strengths of India throughout the tournament has been the depth in their squad. Despite a number of players being sidelined by Covid-19, they kept putting out strong performances on the park.
Add to that, the number of all-round options for captain Yash Dhull – with top order batters bowling impactful spells regularly – has made the Indian team a force to reckon with.
Eight finals and four trophies in 14 editions make India the most successful team in the Under-19 World Cup history. And in the semis against Australia, India once again showed their immense depth with both bat and ball to notch up an impressive win.
Come Saturday, their focus might be on the process and not the result as it should be, but Dhull and Co could well add to India’s rich legacy in the tournament when they take on England at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Paths to the final
First match: Defeated South Africa by 45 runs
Second match: Defeated Ireland by 174 runs
Third match: Defeated Uganda by 326 runs
Quarterfinal: Defeated Bangladesh by 5 wickets
Semifinal: Defeated Australia by 96 runs
First match: Defeated Bangladesh by 7 wickets
Second match: Defeated Canada by 106 runs
Third match: Defeated UAE by 189 runs
Quarterfinal: Defeated South Africa by 6 wickets
Semifinal: Defeated Afghanistan by 15 runs (DLS)
Reminiscent of the dominance exhibited by Prithvi Shaw’s men in 2018, India have had a rather smooth run into the final despite being hampered by Covid-19 as skipper Dhull and his deputy Shaik Rasheed missed two of the three league games after testing positive.
Dhull has lived up to his highly rated talent in the three innings he has played so far including the sublime century in the semifinal.
Rasheed has also shown his skills with the bat and is certainly one to watch out for in the final.
Openers Angkrish Raghuvanshi and Harnoor Singh couldn’t get going in the semifinal against Australia and will be keen to make a mark in the summit clash. Raghuvanshi, especially, has looked in wonderful touch for most of the tournament.
While the batters have put up fine individual performances, the bowling department has fired in unison too.
The pace of Rajvardhan Hangargekar and swing of left-armer Ravi Kumar has rattled the top order batters while the Vicky Ostwal-led spin attack has stifled the opposition in the middle overs.
India's highest run-scorers in the tournament
India's highest wicket-takers in the tournament
|R Ravi Kumar||5||27.0||4||6||3/14||16.33||3.62||27.0||0||0|
England's highest run-scorers in the tournament
Eng's highest wicket-takers in the tournament
England last reached the final back in 1998, when they won their sole trophy till date. After a tense finish in the semifinal against Afghanistan, England will be determined to end their title drought.
Captain Tom Prest has led from the front with 292 runs at an average of 73 while left-arm pacer Joshua Boyden has taken 13 wickets at a stellar average of 9.53.
India’s batters will also need to be wary of wrist spinner Rehan Ahmed (bowling a bulk of googlies) who is usually tasked with providing breakthroughs in the middle overs.
Jacob Bethell, meanwhile, played one of the knocks of the tournament with his 88 against South Africa and if he gets going, could prove a handful for Indian bowlers. Dhull said pre-match that the attacking nature of the English batting lineup is something they must plan for.
Dhull on the challenge of facing England: They play in an attacking mode. They like to dominate, even when they lose one/two wickets. As many dot balls we can bowl, it will be good.
Dhull on whether he thinks about repeating the good record of captains from Delhi at the U19 WC: Just here to play normal game. Came here to represent India, not thinking about representing state
Dhull on learnings as part of India U19 set-up: Daily routines are different, understanding the value of time, getting ready mentally for a match, handling pressure. Learned a lot of new things, and I can see the improvement in my game.
Dhull on interaction with Virat Kohli ahead of final: He gave us his best wishes for doing well. When a senior player like speaks to the team, the morale automatically goes up. Told us about the basics that we need to execute. Accha raha.
Dhull on whether India not winning the final in 2020 is a motivation: Nothing like that, we are not focussed on the result. We will give our best. Last time also they played well, we will try to do well and result will be good
England captain Tom Prest:
“They have obviously got some very good spinners but we’ve had experience playing sub-continental sides, we went to Sri Lanka just before Christmas. We’ve all got our own individual plans, whether that is sweeping or using our feet. But we are confident we can put up a good show.”
“It’s the first time in 24 years that England have been in this final. I don’t know if we can believe it at the moment, we’re going to be playing in a World Cup final. It’s something you dream of growing up, so we’re all really excited and can’t wait to play.”
“They have got a few really good spinners, left-arm and right-arm off-spin. They are quite a well-rounded attack with right-arm seam and a left-arm swing bowler at the top of their innings. They look a pretty well-rounded side but it’s quite similar to us. We’ve got a leg-spinner, a left-arm spinner and myself as an offie. And then our seam attack is pretty varied as well. They are two pretty well-matched sides so we’re looking forward to playing.”
India's overall U19/Youth ODI record vs ENG
India vs England record at Under-19 World Cups
|2000||Sri Lanka||Group||India||9 wickets|
|2006||Sri Lanka||Semifinals||India||234 runs|
|2010||New Zealand||Group||England||31 runs|
|2010||New Zealand||5th place semis||India||7 wickets|
|2014||UAE||Quarterfinals|| England||3 wickets|
India: Harnoor Singh, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Shaik Rasheed, Yash Dhull (c), Raj Bawa, Siddarth Yadav, Kaushal Tambe, Dinesh Bana (wk), Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Vicky Ostwal, Ravi Kumar, Garv Sangwan, Aaradhya Yadav, Manav Parakh, Nishant Sindhu, Aneeshwar Gautam, Vasu Vats.
England: Tom Prest (c), George Bell, Joshua Boyden, Alex Horton, Rehan Ahmed, James Sales, George Thomas, Thomas Aspinwall, Nathan Barnwell, Jacob Bethell , James Coles, William Luxton, James Rew, Fateh Singh, Benjamin Cliff.
The match will begin on Saturday, February 5, at 6.30 pm IST. It will telecast in India on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar.
Inputs from PTI and ICC
Statistics courtesy ESPNCricinfo Statsguru