India's campaign in the Under-19 World Cup came to a disappointing end as they were defeated by Bangladesh in the final of the tournament. Despite being the favourites, India failed to defend their title, much to the disappointment of millions of fans. In the final of the tournament, India batted first and scored 177, Bangladesh won the game by 3 wickets with 23 balls remaining.
Irrespective of the result, the Indian side boasted of quite a few exciting names, some of who could be pinpointed to win laurels for the country in the near future. Man of the tournament Yashasvi Jaiswal is already being hailed up as the next big thing for India while leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi is ready to weave his magic with the ball. The big names often make us unnoticed the players who silently go about their business and perform for the team.
One such example is Indian opener Divyaansh Saxena, who contributed immensely to the team's cause. Divyaansh scored two unbeaten half-centuries in the World Cup and displayed exemplary courage to take a diving catch against Pakistan in the semi-final. He scored 142 runs in the World Cup at an average of 47.33.
In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, Divyaansh Saxena relives his experience from the World Cup and shares some insights about his time on the field.
Q. Describe the experience of playing in the U19 World Cup?
I have been playing for India Under-19 for almost a year. I played many matches but the feeling and pride of playing in a World Cup was totally different and overwhelming. I was really looking forward to it. The atmosphere of the team remained pretty similar as it was earlier. We were well prepared and we were a month early to reach South Africa for the preparations
We largely believe in our processes and it did not change even one bit. We prepared the same way for Pakistan as we did for Japan. In the first game against Sri Lanka, I was a little nervous. There were good crowds, and the national anthem gives you goosebumps. It's a feeling which you can't express in words.
Q. Are you satisfied with your performance and are you looking to make any changes?
I'm pretty satisfied with my performance. I am someone who doesn't dwell in the past. What has happened has happened and the only thing I can do is learn from it and move on. Two unbeaten half-centuries against New Zealand and Pakistan were special. I am very disappointed by the way I got out against Sri Lanka because I was set and I threw my wicket away.
Of course now when I look back, I learnt a lot of new things about my game. Watching Priyam, Tilak and Dhruv bat in the nets, I personally go and talk to them about how I can improve my game. There is always room for improvement whether you are playing for your country or your state.
Q. How do you and Yashasvi Jaiswal get along and what did you discuss when you batted together?
We get along quite well, playing for the same state. We have been playing together since our childhood and back then I could not imagine me and him opening for India in such a big tournament. We talked a lot in between, our understanding is very good.
We would correct each other's mistakes and we used to discuss what the bowler is trying to do and how we can tackle the situation. We have had many century partnerships together for India U-19. Really hoping we open for our stateside and make Mumbai win their 43rd Ranji Trophy title.
Q. During the final, the Bangladeshi players were fairly aggressive, how did you cope up with that?
There was good support for team Bangladesh and they were really pumped up by it. We were as usual calm and waiting for our opportunity to score and take wickets. We have played in quite a few pressure situations. Even the Pakistan game was like that as the crowd was behind them.
We just had to get through the initial burst and we did that successfully in the semi-final. In finals, I got out early but Tilak got a 96-run partnership with Yashasvi so we were back on track but those two run-outs and two unlucky wickets in the form of Kartik and Atharva really hurt us.
Q. What was the message from the captain and team management before the final?
The captain's message was pretty clear. Treat it as another game and I think we did that. There were no different talks in the dressing room and it was pretty relaxing like every other match which we played.
Q. Which was your favourite moment from the World Cup?
Personally, my favourite part of the World Cup was whenever we lined up for the national anthem. It was really exciting and I can't put it in words. In cricketing terms, I think the half-century against Pakistan and the catch I took at deep square were the best moments. When I watch the highlights, I get really emotional, that is how special it was.
Q. Your catch against Pakistan was one of the best catches of the tournament, talk us through the catch and the celebration?
I was standing near the boundary line throughout the game and people were hurling abuses at me. To some extent I tolerated but then they started chanting political stuff. I didn't react to any of it, I was trying to focus on the game. Once Paras sir had told us a quote of Jonty Rhodes, "If you don't go, you'll never know" (going for the catch).
The quote was stuck in my mind and when the batsman hit the ball, I ran with all my might and went for it whole-heartedly without worrying about injury or anything else, I just went for it and I plucked it just two inches above the ground. The celebration was very much needed considering the slogans they were chanting although I was abused even more after that celebration (chuckles).
Q. Describe the experience while fielding in the tense final?
It was a tense situation. Batting wise, I don't feel any pressure on myself no matter what the situation is. While fielding, you can feel the pressure building. The nearer they were getting, we were getting more tensed up, eventually, when it rained, it was just six runs. It was very hard for us to believe what had happened.
Q. How did you recover from the loss in the final?
Personally, I am still recovering. I still can't believe what happened with us. It was such a bad day for us. It's gonna be there for a good time, the regret of not winning it. We were the favourites and we worked pretty hard throughout the tournament, we were pretty gelled up and had a great support staff. Paras sir, Hrishikesh sir, Abhay sir and of course Rahul sir was always with us. Our captain was also very calm and experienced.