Colts have done it again — India win U-19 World Cup title for fifth time

Colts have done it again — India win U-19 World Cup title for fifth time

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India won a record-extending fifth U-19 World Cup title on Saturday (February 5), beating England by four wickets in the final of an extraordinary campaign that was almost derailed by COVID outbreak.

The triumph bore resemblance to the exploits of world-class Indian U-19 teams of the past.
Intrepid in their approach, the starry-eyed Indian players’ success stories also gave a glimpse into the worlds most perfectly calibrated youth structure, which is capable of consistently producing world-class cricketers who are ever ready to take on the biggest of challenges.

In a reflection of India’s dominance, wicketkeeper Dinesh Bana finished the chase of 190 with two sixes and 14 balls to spare.

On winning the toss in the big final, England captain Tom Prest rightly chose to bat first to avoid the “scoreboard pressure” during the chase. India did the next best thing: bowl out the opposition for a total — 189 in this case, in 44.5 overs — that failed to put them under pressure.

India were all over England before a gritty 95 by James Rew saved his team the blushes.

Bowling his medium pacers to deadly effect, Raj Bawa (5/31) ran through the English middle-order after the in-form left-arm seamer Ravi Kumar (4/34) laid the opposition low with two early blows.

India kept taking wickets at regular intervals but not for once did the intensity of the team dropped.

For close to 19 overs, Rew and James Sales (34 not out) defied India with their 93-run eight-wicket stand, ensuring the 1998 edition winners recover from a horror 61 for six and then 91 for seven.

In response, India lost Angkrish Raghuvanshi without a run on the board but the extremely talented Shaik Rasheed shone with a composed 50 off 84 balls.

Coming off his magnificent century in the semifinal against Australia, skipper Yash Dhull fell for 17, but the duo of Nishant Sindhu (50 not out) and Bawa (35) took the team within striking distance of victory with a 67-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

It has been an extremely challenging ride for the Indian team in this edition of the tournament as multiple players from the side were infected by the coronavirus and at one stage even struggled to field eleven fit personnel.

However, despite the huge setback that almost derailed their campaign, India came back a stronger unit focused on correctly doing the things that were within its control.

Special win, says VVS Laxman 

Moments after the title triumph, National Cricket Academy (NCA) head VVS Laxman lauded the BCCI for running a world-class youth structure and organising innumerable, competitive age-group tournaments.

“I think the BCCI has to be complemented. The number of matches and tournaments each age group level gets to play, whether U-16, U-19 or U-23… unfortunately due to COVID they did not get to play any tournament and that’s why I think this tournament win is very special,” Laxman said after the victory.

Delighted with the victory, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly announced a cash award for the entire team.

“Congratulations to the under 19 team and the support staff and the selectors for winning the world cup in such a magnificent way ..The cash prize announced by us of 40 lakhs is a small token of appreciation but their efforts are beyond value .. magnificent stuff..,” Ganguly tweeted. (sic)

Laxman, a teammate of former India captain Ganguly, has accompanied the team to the West Indies for the tournament.

“Firstly huge congratulations to the selection committee. It was a new selection committee and quite challenging for them to identify this group. After that, the coaching staff with Hrishikesh (Kanitkar) as the head coach, Sai Raj, Munish, and all the support staff.

“The way they got this group together, they worked really hard, won the Asia Cup and the preparation for this World Cup was fantastic.

“But in the middle of this tournament, we all know what happened to the boys. To test positive (for COVID) but show the kind of resilience and positive attitude was exemplary,” Laxman said.

He termed the title triumph only a beginning of a journey for the team’s players.

“It’s important but this is just a learning process and just the start of their journey. Everyone in this group understands that. This is about development as players and as a person and it’s great to see how they’ve developed and evolved over the last couple of months.”

Winning captain Yash Dhul, who was himself down with COVID after the first match, said they were finding it difficult to get the combination right.

“Proud moment for India, that we have managed to achieve this. It was difficult at the start to get the combination right. But as time went we became a family and the team atmosphere was good. Great moment to be playing under this lot of support staff,” Dhull said after taking a lap of honour along with his teammates.

Calling it a big learning, head coach Kanitkar praised Dhull for leading the side to the title. “It’s too exciting for my good, but happy with the result. I think we learned a lot from this. We were looking to bat as well. There was a little bit of moisture. “(Dhull) led them very well. He has a very good head on his shoulders. I think it’s a fabulous competition, getting this stage to perform at this young age, for all teams. It’s a great opportunity to showcase talent and for the academies around the world,” Kanitkar said.

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