Australia clinch U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup crown with emphatic win over India

A dominant Australian side produced a superb all-round performance to secure their fourth ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup crown, overcoming a formidable Indian side amid a vibrant final atmosphere at Willowmoore Park, Benoni on Sunday.

Australia clinch U19 Men's Cricket World Cup crown with emphatic win over India

A dominant Australian side produced a superb all-round performance to secure their fourth ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup crown, overcoming a formidable Indian side amid a vibrant final atmosphere at Willowmoore Park, Benoni on Sunday.

Led by Hugh Weibgen, Australia put in an exceptional display in the blockbuster finale, first posting the highest total ever recorded in a U19 Men’s CWC final and then executing a flawless display of bowling to dismantle India’s chase and secure the win by 79 runs.

Echoing the dominance of Pat Cummins and his senior counterparts in India a few months earlier, the young Aussie team secured their country’s first U19 title since Mitch Marsh led his team to victory in 2010.

India, who entered the tournament as defending champions, came off second best in what was their fifth consecutive final appearance in the U19 Men’s CWC.

Australia beat India by 79 runs

Australia 253/7 (50 overs) v India 174 (43.5 overs)

Australia won the toss and opted to bat under a cloudy sky in Benoni, and immediately got off to a fiery start. Harry Dixon stayed true to his burgeoning reputation as a David Warner replica by smashing Naman Tiwari for two fours and a swivelled pull for six in the second over, setting a blistering tone to the innings.

Raj Limbani was the first to strike from an Indian bowling outfit that had looked so dominant before the final, producing a brilliant inswinger to go through the defence of Sam Konstas.

India introduced Saumy Pandey into the attack early, hoping to capitalize on any vulnerability Hugh Weibgen may have had against left-arm spin. The Australian skipper had been dismissed by left-arm spinners in three matches in the tournament prior to the final, and once by Pandey himself in a warm-up game in January.

But with the left-handed Dixon at the other end, the Aussie pair rotated strike easily against the Indian bowlers. Captain Uday Saharan turned to Musheer Khan, another left-arm spinner, to save Pandey’s overs, but the Webgen-Dixon partnership grew in confidence.

Though the introduction of spin momentarily slowed the scoring rate, it failed to yield wickets. Consequently, India reverted to pace after 11 successive overs of spin. It immediately reaped dividends. Tiwari induced a miscue from Weibgen, who drove straight to Musheer at backward point for 48.

Tiwari struck again in his next over, coaxing Dixon to lob one skyward with a well-disguised knuckle ball. With two quick wickets, India clawed their way back into contention, but Harjas Singh, who had previously struggled for form in the tournament, rose to the occasion with a crucial knock.

Teaming up with Ryan Hicks, Harjas anchored the Australian innings. With only two frontline quicks and the medium pace of Arshin Kulkarni at their disposal, India had little choice but to turn back to spin. However, the Aussie pair continued to accumulate runs with minimal risk.

Harjas opened up against Priyanshu Moliya, smashing him for a six and a four to assert his dominance on the bowling attack. He continued to take full toll on the spinners while Hicks found gaps to rotate the strike regularly.

The return of Limbani brought a wicket as the seamer trapped Hicks in front for 20 to break the partnership. Harjas continued unperturbed and completed a fine half-century – his first in the tournament – off 59 balls.

Pandey came back into the attack in the 38th over and trapped Harjas in front for 55 to give India a massive breakthrough. Musheer added another scalp, that of Raf MacMillan, in the 40th over and Australia slipped from 165/3 to 187/6.

Ollie Peake, coming in off a match-winning knock in the semi-finals, and Charlie Anderson built steadily before Limbani picked up his third wicket by trapping the latter in front in the 46th over.

Peake remained unbeaten on 46 as Australia finished on 253, the highest total registered in a final of an U19 Men’s CWC.

India had a daunting target ahead of them against a formidable pace attack. Callum Vidler started the second innings with a maiden over and Anderson, who had taken four wickets in the warm-up game against India, bowled another tight over with the new ball.

The mounting pressure gave way to the first wicket – Vidler had Kulkarni edging behind off a delivery that seamed away. Australia had their first strike, and it forced India into defensive mode with Adarsh Singh and Musheer Khan aiming to survive the new ball spells from the Aussie quicks.

Musheer showed early glimpses of promise with some fine shots, one of them a seamless punch down the ground for four. However, Mahli Beardman was introduced into the attack and the extra pace of an angled delivery into the right-hander exposed a gap in the batter’s defence.

India’s most reliable batter in the tournament, their skipper Uday Saharan, joined Adarsh in the middle with his side in huge trouble. The scoring rate hadn’t picked up, and they were staring at a big target with two wickets down already.

Saharan attempted to break free after a cautious start, but an aggressive drive resulted in a thick edge that found its way to Weibgen at backward point as Beardman struck for the second time in quick succession.

India’s woes compounded as Sachin Dhas, the in-form batter, perished to MacMillan’s first ball. The off-spinner had Dhas caught behind for nine as India leaving India in dire straits at 68/4.

Adarsh found some company from Moliya and the stand got India into the nineties, but he top-edged a pull off Anderson and the resistance was broken.

Aravelly Avanish gave a return catch to MacMillan in the next over and India were six down.

Sensing the increasing need to add runs, Adarsh attempted to accelerate his subdued innings, finding boundaries with a four and a six off Vidler. However, he ultimately nicked a short ball from Beardman to the ‘keeper, departing after a patient vigil at the crease, having scored 47.

Murugan Abhishek provided some late fireworks, but it was too little, too late for India, who were too far adrift from the target to mount a successful comeback. He finished on 42, miscuing a pull off Vidler’s final over.

India were bowled out for 174, finishing second-best to an effective Australian unit that reserved their best performance for the final of the tournament. Beardman walked away with the Player of the Match award for what proved to be a match-winning spell of three for 15 from his seven overs.

Australian skipper Hugh Weibgen was proud of the effort from his team, especially the quicks, and also had a few words of encouragement for India.

“Our plan was to bat first and try and get runs on the board. We backed ourselves. A quality innings from Harjas [Singh]. Full credit to the coaches for sticking with him. They [pacers] can go far as a unit, they know their roles so well. I’ll be surprised if the four of them don’t go a long way in their careers. India are a class side, they dominated the whole tournament, just came out on the wrong side.”

Indian captain Uday Saharan commended the fighting spirit of his team and hoped to learn from the experience.

“I’m proud of the boys, they played very well and showed good fighting spirit. We played a few rash shots and didn’t spend time in the middle. We were prepared but couldn’t quite execute well. There are a lot of learnings from the tournament. We learnt a lot from the coaches and support staff and more importantly from the games themselves.”

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