India Under-19 captain Prithvi Shaw believes the sterling form of his fast bowlers will give the three-time champions an edge when they take on Australia in pursuit of a record fourth World Cup title at Mount Maunganui on Saturday.
The Rahul Dravid-coached side would be aiming to rewrite record books with a fourth title when they square off against an equally formidable Australia in the final.
India and Australia are the two most successful teams in the history of the tournament, having won the coveted trophy thrice each. “Whenever the team has needed them, they [fast bowlers] have provided the breakthroughs. They’re ready whenever I ask them to bowl. They’ve good intensity as well and their fitness is great as well,” Shaw said.
“All of them – Kamlesh [Nagarkoti], [Ishan] Porel, [Shivam] Mavi. It helps us all to have a good attitude in the field, we’re all really pumped up when our fast bowlers do well,” he added.
Shaw, however, was not bothered by the fact that the Indian batting line-up has not been tested enough, with the openers getting solid starts in all but one of five matches, including two century partnerships.
To add their strength, number three batsman Shubman Gill has been in scintillating form, aggregating 341 runs at an average of 170.50, including one innings as opener. “I have confidence that even if we get one partnership, we can take charge of the match and take the score to 250-300.”
“If you look at our match against Australia too, we put up a good total, even though we lost a couple of wickets after an early partnership. The middle-order also controlled the innings well,” Shaw said.
The Indian skipper, though, was cautious and said Australia have improved considerably since the 100-run defeat his side inflicted on them early in the tournament. “They [Australia] are a good side, it will be challenging for us even though they lost against us in the first game. They have got a better side right now. We will stick to our process and will try to execute it on the field,” Shaw said.
Touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket, Shaw has been in fine form, managing 232 runs in four innings with a best score of 94 against Australia in their tournament opener. “I can’t actually describe it myself, but I think so far I am really doing good,” Shaw said about his own performance.
“If you see the results, the batting and bowling and the intensity on the pitch and the attitude how the boys are behaving, it’s a good sign till now.”
Group stage final ‘does not bother’ Jason Sangha
Australia captain Jason Sangha, on the other hand, said his team would be looking to seize the initiative against India. Australia would be aiming to add a fourth title to the ones claimed in 1998, 2002 and 2010. Sangha observed that the 100-run loss to Shaw’s side earlier in the tournament is a thing of the past, and the final is a new game altogether.
“The 100-run loss does not bother me at all. A grand final is a different contest. It’s a different pitch, different nerves. They’ve played good cricket but if we get a couple of early wickets and put pressure on their players, anything can happen,” he said.
Sangha refused to believe that Australia will approach the match as “underdogs”, having lost to India earlier. “We wouldn’t say we are underdogs. We are not the favourites, but at the end of the day we are Australia – we are our own team, India are their own team,” he said.
“We are a side that can beat any team if we play well. We’ve grown by leaps and bounds since our first match,” the Sangha added.
(With PTI inputs)
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