For the amount of talent the Indian Under-19 side possesses, it isn’t surprising they beat Australia in their World Cup opener. But the manner in which they did – crushing them by 100 runs – makes this team the one to beat in the tournament.
First, the boys in blue set up a solid platform upfront. Skipper Prithvi Shaw and Manjot Kalra stayed together for 180 runs, breaking India’s previous best opening stand of 179 held by Shikhar Dhawan and Robin Uthappa in the 2004 edition.
Then, a late blitz compensated for the middle overs struggle and took India to a formidable 328 in Mount Maunganui.
Then, Shaw’s pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Kavi dismantled the Australian batting line-up with deliveries that often clocked over 140kmph. The ruthlessness of these younger men in blue on Sunday was reminiscent of the domineering senior Australian sides of the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
And, Australia, with their dropped catches and defensive batting, wouldn’t have made their senior predecessors proud.
These were the factors that made possible India’s massive win in their World Cup opener:
The Shaw & Kalra show
Prithvi Shaw and Manjot Kalra got India off to the brightest of starts. The right-hand, left-hand combination took the Australian bowlers to the cleaners and set the platform for India massive total. So good was their stroke-making that it wasn’t long before Shaw was drawing comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag on account of how late he was playing while the lazy elegance of Kalra saw Shikhar Dhawan and Sourav Ganguly coming into the picture. Shaw got a reprieve when he was on 25 but he played shots all around the wicket. Kalra did the same. The duo dealt in boundaries (Prithvi hit 8 fours and a six while Kalra hit 12 fours and a six ) and their 180-run partnership virtually batted the Aussies out of the match. They both failed to get to the three-figure mark but did enough to serve notice to all the other teams.
The blitzkrieg in the end
In hindsight, the violence from Shubman Gill and Abhishek Sharma wasn’t needed. Even without their barrage of boundaries, the Indian bowlers could have managed to pull this off. But the runs and how they came would have demoralised the Aussies. The well-set Shubman was seeing the ball well, getting well within the crease to get underneath the full-length deliveries to hoist them with power. They had pegged back the Indians with three wickets, including Shubman’s, in three overs and would have hoped to restrict them within 300. But Jackson Edwards welcomed Abhishek Sharma with an almost waist-high full-toss that he gladly dispatched to deep midwicket fence. The next over, he smashed Steve Waugh’s son, Austin, for a six and a four. Edwards, in his next over, was then chipped over the fine leg boundary.
In the air... and dropped
“Obviously, the boys tried quite hard but as they say, catches win matches,” Australian skipper Jason Sangha said after the match. His country’s cricketers pouch balls as safe as a Kangaroo does her Joey; direct-hits seem to have built into their genes. But today’s match was an aberration. In the 21st over, Manjot, from the non-strikers end, advanced tentatively to the other end when Prithvi hit the ball straight to mid on. Edwards throw, however, missed the stumps. In the 42nd over, Pope missed Himanshu Rana’s skier of Sutherland at midoff. In the 43rd, the fielder missed another skier of the same batter – this time off Bartlett at fine leg. Ralston, an over later, dropped Shubman’s catch.