Eight finals and four trophies in 14 editions make India the most successful team in the Under-19 World Cup history. And come Saturday, they look on course for a record-extending fifth title given the depth of talent and form but standing in the way is a driven English team, chasing its own piece of history in what promises to be an enthralling summit clash. Yash Dull and Co. will aim to add to India’s rich legacy when they take on England at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here.
India have had a rather smooth run into the final despite a massive off the field setback when skipper Dhull and his deputy Shaik Rasheed missed two of the three league games due to COVID-19.
Dhull, who had the worst symptoms among the infected players, has lived up to his highly rated talent in the three innings he has played so far including the sublime hundred in the semifinal.
Rasheed has also shown his brilliance with the bat and is certainly the one to watch out for in the future.
Opener Angkrish Raghuvanshi and Harnoor Singh were extra cautious in their approach in the semifinal against Australia and the duo will need to change their approach for the summit clash.
What makes India’s bunch of teenagers look the part is their unexpected maturity. The way Dhull and Rasheed batted after a poor start against Australia was a lesson in pacing the innings.
Only a few out of the current lot are likely to graduate to the highest level in the years to follow but in the short term, a special performance on Saturday afternoon can land them a life changing IPL deal at the upcoming mega auction.
While the batters have put up individual performances, the bowling department has fired in unison.
The extra 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. He is India’s leading wicket-taker with 12 scalps at 10.75.
Summing up team’s confidence ahead of the final, Rasheed said: “We are a very good team. We are looking to win the finals.” The U-19 stars are also getting to learn from the best.
Virat Kohli, who went on to become a world beater after captaining India U-19 to the title in 2008, gave a pep talk to the class of 2022 on how to approach the high pressure final.
They face England, a team which last reached the title clash way back in 1998 when it won its sole trophy till date.
After a tense finish in the semifinal against Afghanistan, England will be more than keen to end their title drought of the last 24 years.
Like India, England too remain unbeaten in the tournament. 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 batters will also need to be wary of wrist spinner Rehan Ahmed who is tasked with providing breakthroughs in the middle overs.
Irrespective of the result on final, the Indian boys have had their moment in the sun in the Caribbean but given the high expectations they set for themselves, they will settle for nothing less than a trophy.
Squads: India: Yash Dhull (captain), Harnoor Singh, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Shaik Rasheed, Nishant Sindhu, Siddarth Yadav, Aneeshwar Gautam, Manav Parakh, Kaushal Tambe, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Vicky Ostwal, Garv Sangwan, Dinesh Bana, Aaradhya Yadav, Raj Bawa, Vasu Vats, Ravi Kumar.
South Africa: Tom Prest (captain), 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.
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