India’s 11-match unbeaten streak at the ICC Under 19 World Cup came to an end on Sunday in Potchefstroom as Bangladesh roared (sometimes quite literally) to their first world title with a three-wicket win against the boys in blue.
In what was the battle of the two best teams in the tournament, Bangladesh just seemed to want it more badly on the day of the final as Akbar Ali’s boys dialled up their performances in all three departments to get the better of the pre-tournament favourites.
It is worth remembering that, as Rahul Dravid has said repeatedly in the past, it is not about the results at the U19 level. This is just a platform for young cricketers to make their mark and start their journey towards bigger and better things in their careers. The process and work ethic is more important for these players than medals and a trophy: it is true for all teams, not just India or Bangladesh.
With that in mind, here is a look back at how Indian players fared in the tournament in South Africa:
India's top run-getters at U19 WC 2020
|Player||Inns||Runs||HS||Ave||SR||50s / 100s|
|YBK Jaiswal||6||400||105*||133.33||82.47||4 / 1|
|NT Tilak Varma||3||86||46||28.66||67.71||0|
India's top wicket-takers at U19 WC 2020
|NT Tilak Varma||1||1.0||0||-||-||6.00||-|
As you can see from the tables, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ravi Bishnoi emerged, without a doubt, as the best Indian players on show.
Now, we take a look at performances of some of the players who featured regularly for India during the tournament:
1. Yashasvi Jaiswal
With 400 runs, four half-centuries and one century, there was no doubt who the player of the tournament was. Yashasvi Jaiswal was already a man ear-marked for bigger things, as he showed with a List A double-century (youngest ever) before the World Cup and he lived up to his billing and then some in South Africa. In the six times he batted, he was not dismissed for less than 50 even once. His sensational cover drives, the balance while playing the flicks through mid-wicket, the lofted slog-sweeps for six: all oozed class and maturity beyond his age.
While those were the tangibles, his composure and temperament shined through as well. He took his time during the first 10 overs, was not hesitant to play out maiden overs, took the singles by manipulating the field like a pro and, most impressively, did not seem fazed by the aggression shown by Bangladesh in the final.
The one criticism of his performance could be how he threw his wicket away after reaching 50 on a couple of occasions but he immediately fixed that during the tournament, playing for the long haul in the semi-final and final.
He showed he is a decent option with the ball in hand too (backing up the fact he came up as an all-rounder during the IPL auction).
There are some players who definitively show they are destined for greater things at the U19 World Cup and Jaiswal could well join the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw in doing just that.
2. Divyaansh Saxena
Jaiswal’s opening partner was impressive in flashes, with his best performance coming against Pakistan in the semi-final. He looked compact technique-wise and a square drive he played during his half-century against the arch-rivals was replayed over and over for the quality of it (he deservedly held the pose, too, for good measure). His catch earlier that day was one of best of the tournament and came at a critical time to swing momentum in India’s favour. His partnership with Jaiswal was a main reason for India’s near-perfect run to the final. But on the big day, he was carried away by the pressure imparted by Bangladesh when India needed him to be steady.
3. Priyam Garg
Being the captain of the favourites to lift the trophy was a huge responsibility and it seemed to sit well on the shoulders of Priyam Garg. But just one half-century from his three outings was not the best of returns for the Uttar Pradesh lad. The middle order was not tested in the tournament thanks to how good the openers were, but for someone who has played first-class and List A cricket, the lack of game time won’t be a valid excuse as he failed to lift his side out of trouble in the final.
As a captain, Garg was impressive, leading with a calmness and using his bowling resources well for the most part. Particularly eye-catching was how he was ready to put a shoulder around a bowler who needed it under pressure.
4. Dhruv Jurel
Another middle-order batsman who would have liked to return from South Africa with more than just one half-century. Jurel’s low scores against Australia and Bangladesh were especially disappointing for India. While the lower order made up for the earlier, the latter scenario proved disastrous for India as his tragicomic run-out was part of India’s batting collapse in the final.
Where Jurel was the most impressive was behind the stumps. His wicket-keeping impressed former coaches during commentary and a lightning-quick stumping in the final was the best of the lot.
5. Siddhesh Veer
Drafted into the squad at the last minute as an injury replacement, Veer walked away with the player of the match award in India’s first game. His inventive stroke-play and steady off-spin bowling were impressive in Bloemfontein. But after that all-round performance, Veer was not involved much later in the tournament.
6. Sushant Mishra
The left-arm quick does not have the pace of his colleagues but showed the ability to swing the new ball early on in the tournament. But he seemed to largely revert to short-pitched bowling in the knockout stages, saying that is where he is most comfortable operating (a Neil Wagner type bowler). In the final, rhythm eluded him. His best performance came in the match against Pakistan when the short-pitched bowling worked a treat but failed to show up for his captain in the final and was lucky not to be taken off for bowling two beamers.
7. Atharva Ankolekar
Having missed the first two matches of the tournament (presumably due to injury), Ankolekar was the star of India’s wins in the final group stage game against New Zealand (with the ball) and the quarter-final against Australia (with the bat). The Mumbai youngster did not have the best of outings in the final and was underbowled after being hit for runs in his first two overs. But he has the makings of a useful spin-bowling all-rounder.
8. Kartik Tyagi
Easily the most-talked about pacer of the tournament, Tyagi was an enigma for the likes of Tom Moody during commentary. The action, the pace, the yorkers were all mighty impressive but the radar (he was guilty of bowling nearly five extra overs through wides) was an issue as is his landing stride. But with a few technical modifications, Tyagi could go on to achieve great heights. The ingredients for a tearaway pacer are all there – consistent speeds, lethal in-swinging yorkers, surprise bouncers and a go-for-the-kill attitude.
9. Akash Singh
Another pacer (also with an IPL contract) who consistently hit speeds of 140 kmphs (and thereabouts). The left-arm fast bowler had more consistency than Mishra and the action is far smoother too. His highlight was the performance against Australia, when he wrapped up the match with a three-for. Like the rest of his colleagues, he struggled in the final and was uncharacteristically erratic.
10. Ravi Bishnoi
The leading wicket-taker of the tournament, and the man who almost single-handedly brought India back into contention in the final. With an action that lends itself to bowling more googlies than leg-spinners, the Rajasthan lad bamboozled batsmen right through the tournament with the one that spun into the right-handers and away from the lefties. His pace and penchant for the wrong-’un make it impossible not to compare him with Rashid Khan. And like the Afghan superstar, Bishnoi is also a livewire on the field and a decent batsman from what we saw against Australia. Bishnoi, who will be spending the IPL season under the tutelage of Anil Kumble at Kings XI Punjab, is on his way to stardom.