Australia, in this tournament, have been challenged only twice: in the quarter-final against England, in which they defended comfortably a paltry 127; in their first match against India, which they lost by 100 runs.
India are yet to be challenged. The conditions... they have mastered. The opponents... they have rolled over. They have chased without losing a wicket. They have won at least by 100 runs whilst defending a target.
Despite this, their illustrious coach Rahul Dravid told nzherald.co.nz, “We believe we could bat better in phases of the game and although we have bowled really well in this tournament, we know we can get a few more things right and play a really good game on Saturday.”
Excellence is what Rahul Dravid wants from his colts, not mere success. The team, for him, shouldn’t just be better than the rest, it should be the best it can be. Which is why India have been a level above the rest in the World Cup so far.
The team’s richness in skill allows Dravid to set it high targets. The expected individuals, like Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, have shone. But hidden talents – Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Ishan Porel – emerged too.
“For them to have adapted over the last five weeks the way they have both from a bowling and a batting perspective has been really pleasing. The other thing is just the spirit in the camp has been really good, and everyone is keen to learn and embrace what this tournament has to offer,” Dravid told nzherald.co.nz.
Australia, after the defeat against India, have trounced their opponents (except England in quarter-finals). But on Saturday, they will not be the favourite, considering India’s victory margins in the tournament (see below). The services of the Indian middle order were rarely used in the tournament. The Australians can boost their chances of a fourth title triumph if they can dismiss India’s top three cheaply (a daunting task) and expose the middle and the lower order, especially in a chase of a big score.
In the first game, spinner Lloyd Pope bowled just 18 balls and went without a wicket. But the auburn-haired South Australian, who picked up a world-record haul against England in the quarter-final, is gearing up for the rematch.
“I know they play spin very well but I’m backing myself to take some wickets and not go for too many runs,” he told cricket.com.au.
- Shubman Gill and Kamlesh Nagarkoti for India: His mindboggling numbers apart, Gill’s construction and pacing of innings make him Australia’s key target on Saturday. Of course, there’s the precociously talented Pritvhi Shaw opening the innings. But Gill’s outperformed him in this tournament. Nagarkoti’s 145+ kmph thunderbolts ruffled the Aussies a little and they will have to face him again at the same venue.
- Jack Edwards and Lloyd Pope: His auburn curls and world-record bowling figures make Lloyd Pope stand out in the Australian side. The 8/35 he took against England in the quarter-final revived Australia’s hopes after they were all out for 127. Opener Jack Edwards will count on the experience of making a half-century against the Indians in the first game.
Head to head
- The last time the teams met at Mount Maunganui – the teams’ first match – India crushed Australia by 100 runs.
- Unmukt Chand-led India beat Australia at their own backyard in the Under-19 World Cup final of 2012.
- TITLES: India: 3, Australia: 3.
Road to final
- beat Australia by 100 runs
- beat Papua New Guinea by 10 wickets (with 252 balls remaining)
- beat Zimbabwe by 10 wickets (with 170 balls remaining)
- Quarter-final: beat Bangladesh by 131 runs
- Semi-final: beat Pakistan by 203 runs
- lost to India by 100 runs
- beat Zimbabwe by 7 wickets (with 190 balls remaining)
- beat Papua New Guinea by 311 runs
- Quarter-final: beat England by 31 runs
- Semi-final: beat Afghanistan by 6 wickets (with 75 balls remaining)
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.
Australia: Jason Sangha (captain), Will Sutherland, Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter Holt (wk), Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Jason Ralston, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh.