India were firm favourites going into the final of the 2020 ICC U19 World Cup against Bangladesh, having recently triumphed over the same opposition in the U19 Asia Cup. India held all the aces to go ahead and potentialy become only the second team after Pakistan to defend their U19 World Cup title.
But that was not meant to be, as Bangladesh played better cricket on the day and deservedly won their maiden U19 World Cup. The intent shown by the Bangladesh players right from ball one of the final was commendable and they straightaway put India on the backfoot.
Let's find out some of the factors that cost India their fifth U19 crown.
The Indian batting collapse
Runs on the board in the final always makes a huge difference for any team. Due to the excellent form of the Indian openers Yashasvi Jaiswal and Divyansh Saxena throughout the tournament, the Indian middle-order was not relatively tested in the entire competition. No batsman other than the openers had batted more than twice before the final.
After weathering the intense initital spell from Bangladesh bowlers, Jaiswal tried to consolidate the Indian innings alongside Tilak Verma and then with wicket-keeper Dhruv Jurel and India were in a decent position at 156-3. With skipper Priyam Garg already back in the hut and only all-rounders to follow, India knew that it was important for this partnership to carry on. However, after Jaiswal lost his wicket for 88, Siddhesh Veer departed the very next ball. The last thing India wanted was getting rid of their other set batsman Jurel but that is exactly what happend as Jurel was run out.
This sent shivers and panic in the Indian dressing room and India inexplicably lost 7 wickets for just 21 runs, getting bowled out for 177 in the process. Lack of communication between batsmen, batsmen ending up being at the same end, etc. showed the lack of game sense and presence of mind that India had.
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Withdrawing Ravi Bishnoi from the bowling attack
Bangladesh were cruising to victory as their openers had added 50 runs for the opening wicket and needed just another 127 runs with all 10 wickets intact. However, then came a twist in the game when leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi was introduced. In a spell of five overs, Bishnoi gave away just 12 runs and picked up four wickets as he ran through the Bangladesh batting line-up and turned the game on its head. From 50-0, Bangladesh were 65-4 and looked in all sorts of trouble.
But to the surprise of many, Bishnoi was withdrawn from the attack and apparently his overs were saved for later. He was later introduced when Bangladesh needed only 50 odd runs to win and thus it was a very perplexing move to remove him from the bowling attack just when he was looking so dangerous and when it felt like every ball of his would be a wicket-taking delivery.
Too many extras from Indian bowlers
In a low-scoring encounter, giving away extra runs is almost a crime and that crime proved too costly for the Indian team. While the Bangladesh bowlers were absolutely fantastic and disciplined with their line and length, the Indian bowlers were wayward and inconsistent. A total of 33 extras were given away by India out of which there were 19 wide balls!
There was also difference between the fielding standards of the two sides. While Bangladesh saved runs in the field and took their catches, Indians were clumsy at times and also dropped catches, something which quite clearly went against them.
Top-notch Bangladesh performance in the field
On the day, Bangladesh clearly looked more hungry for the World Cup and they showed their hunger through their body language. The new-ball pairing of Shoriful Islam and Tanzim Hasan Sakib were absolutely fantastic with their line and length. They also showed the aggression that gave Bangladesh an extra boost.
Their fielding superbly complimented their bowling as a mixture of run-outs and good bowling towards the end of the Indian innings helped them bowl India out for just 177, which they ended up chasing down with three wickets in hand.
Thus, it is evident that India surely had their moments but they could not quite capitalise on it. As they say. the one who laughs the last, laughs the loudest and it was Bangladesh's day of rejoice.