India clinched a historic fourth ICC U19 World Cup title by defeating Australia by 8 wickets in the final at the Bay Oval in New Zealand. India became the first nation to win the ICC U19 World Cup a record four times. They had earlier won the title in 2000, 2008 and 2012.
Coached by the legendary Rahul Dravid, the team dominated in all departments through the tournament. Player of the Tournament Shubman Gill was the most impactful, scoring a tally of 372 runs at an average of 124 and a strike rate of 112.38. Gill, Prithvi Shaw (261 runs), Manjot Kalra (252) and Harvik Desai (157) contributed with the bat, while left-arm spinner Anukul Roy was on top of the wicket-taking charts with 14 scalps at an average of 9.07. Fast bowlers Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Ishan Porel were also amongst the wicket-takers with economy rates of under four an over.
In the big final, the Aussies, who won the toss and elected to bat first, were off to a blazing start with 32 in two overs. The breakthrough was once again provided by Ishan Porel, who removed both openers in a span of four overs, followed by the dismissal of skipper Jason Sangha. Struggling at 59/3, the Australian innings was brought back on track through a 50-run stand between Jonathan Merlo and Pram Uppal. The promising partnership was broken by Anukul Roy, who dismissed Uppal for 34. Merlo (76) continued to reach his half-century with Nathan McSweeney (23) playing a supporting role.
Chasing a modest target of 217, openers Manjot Kalra and Prithvi Shaw gave the Indians a brisk start, putting on 71 inside 12 overs. Shaw's short but solid knock of 29 came to an early end, however Kalra continued his fine form to anchor the innings through his unbeaten knock of 101 off 102 balls. Kalra joined Unmukt Chand, Brett Williams, Stephen Peters and Jarrad Burke in the club of batsmen who have hit a century in an Under-19 World Cup final. An unbroken 89-run third wicket stand between Kalra and Desai (47*) secured an eight-wicket victory, with 67 balls remaining.
Winning the Under-19 title is the first step to greatness for young talent to reach the pinnacle of the sport, the senior 50-over World Cup. Although the path to greatness has been opened, the players need to keep their feet on the ground and keep putting in the hard work as competition in Indian cricket is at its peak. None of the players from the last U19 World Cup-winning squad ended up playing for India.
India’s Tour of South Africa
Team India have produced a clinical all-round performance to thrash hosts South Africa in the first two ODI matches and take a 2-0 lead in the six-match series. The win ended the hosts' run of 17 consecutive wins at home, and gave India its first ever win in ODIs over South Africa in Durban.
The highlight of the first ODI was skipper Virat Kohli’s 33rd ODI century and his 189-run third wicket partnership with Ajinkya Rahane (79) helped India achieve a six-wicket win over the hosts. Earlier, Faf du Plessis (120) registered his 9th century to steer South Africa to a competitive 269/8. This was before the India spinners reduced the hosts to 134/5 at one stage. Kuldeep Yadav (3/34) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2/45) were among the pick of the bowlers with figures with Bumrah (1/56) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/71) chipping in with a wicket each.
The second ODI saw the tourists crush the home team by 9 wickets at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. The home team was led by new captain Aiden Markram, playing his third ODI, as Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers were both ruled out due to injury.
After winning the toss and opting to bowl first, the Indian spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav again proved too hot to handle for South African batsmen as they were bundled for 118 in 32.2 overs, the lowest score at the venue. Leg-spinner Chahal picked up his maiden five-wicket haul to finish with figures of 5/22, while left-arm spinner Yadav took 3/20.
Chasing a paltry target, Dhawan (56) and Kohli (46) added an unbeaten second wicket stand of 93-run to win the match.
While the visitors will now be gunning for an unprecedented 3-0 lead in the third ODI, the home team received another setback as Quinton de Kock was ruled out of the third ODI due to an injury. However, this could be a blessing in disguise for the hosts as De Kock has not been in form throughout the series. Heinrich Klaasen, who finished as the third highest run-getter in the domestic one-day tournament, is expected to make his ODI debut.