ICC U-19 World Cup 2018 Final Preview: India take on Australia for glory
There was a fear among the cricket fraternity in India that the young Under-19 Indian players playing in New Zealand would lose focus after the IPL auction hysteria. But all doubts were put to rest after India U19 defeated arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-final.
India U19 not only won the match but did so convincingly. After putting a total of 272 on the board, they dismissed the opposition with a paltry score of 69.
India will now face Australia U19 in the final on the 3rd of February.
India U19 team's superlative form
The Indian team has been undefeated in the tournament till now. They started the tournament by beating a strong Australian side (whom they play on the third). They then went on to beat Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe comprehensively to top the group and qualify for the Quarter-final.
They faced Bangladesh in the quarter-final and registered a resounding victory to qualify for the semi-final.
A complete team performance
The secret to the team's stellar performance is the contribution of every member of the squad to the team's success. While the openers have given the team good starts throughout the tournament, the middle order has formed a decent platform for the lower-middle order to increase the scoring rate in death overs.
The fast bowlers have impressed everyone with their pace, while the spinners have kept things tight in the middle order and restricted the opposition to a low score. Apart from this, the fielding by the Indian team has simply been exemplary. Overall, every department has contributed to the team's cause and they will look to continue that success and team cohesion in the finals.
Even though it has been a complete team performance, few players have been exceptional throughout the tournament and their performances can have a major impact on the all important final.
In the batting department, all eyes will be on Shubman Gill. Gill has been the most consistent batsman of the tournament. He scored a scintillating hundred in the semis and helped India in posting a winning total against Pakistan.
Apart from Gill, skipper Prithvi Shaw will also play an important role in the final. He has been successful in giving perfect starts to the team throughout the tournament. Hence, his role will be to provide a steady opening to the team. As a captain, he will have the responsibility to calm the nerves of his team-mates, something that differentiates many of the best teams.
In the bowling department, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti will have their work cut out against a strong Australian batting line-up.
Abhishek Sharma is another important player in the squad and he will, along with other spinners, look to aggravate Australian batsmen's weaknesses against spin. Abhishek is also a hard-hitting lower middle order batsman, who can score some quick runs at the end of the innings.
One step away from glory
Indian Under 19 teams have a legacy of producing future Indian cricketers, and this particular selection of players have the potential to make it to the national side in the near future. But they won't be looking too far ahead as World Cup finals don't occur that often.
They have a calm head in Rahul Dravid as their head coach, and he will ensure that the team doesn't get complacent, keeping the focus on the job at hand. Dravid will also be aware of the fact that Australia is a strong side and they can't be taken lightly.
If the team is able to play the way they have played till now, they have a very good chance of etching their names in the history books.