U19 Men’s Cricket WC: India seek revenge over Australia as countires clash in third elite final

Benoni, Feb 10 (IANS) India will play Australia in the third final of an elite event conducted by the International Cricket Council (ICC), hoping to reverse the trend of the previous two clashes. Just like in last year’s ICC World Test Championship Final and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final, India and Australia are set to clash in the showpiece finale of another landmark ICC tournament, this time at the ICC U19 Men’s World Cup 2024 in South Africa on Sunday.

Undefeated thus far in the tournament, both teams will stand on the brink of history as they take to the field in Benoni on Sunday. Australia are aiming for a rare quadruple after clinching three major pieces of ICC silverware in the past year, which includes the two titles named above and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023, won twelve months ago on South African soil.

At stake for India meanwhile, is the prospect of a record-extending sixth ICC U19 Men’s CWC title, and their first successful defence of the crown. Amazingly, India are featuring in the fifth successive final at this event, and the defending champions will be keen to maintain their dominance at this event.

India dominated the early stages of the tournament, with commanding victories over Bangladesh, Ireland, and the USA, thanks to stellar performances from Saumy Pandey, Musheer Khan, and Naman Tiwari. In the Super Six stage, Musheer Khan’s second century set up a vital win against New Zealand, while Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas starred with centuries in a big victory over Nepal.

The semifinal clash against South Africa posed a stern test for India, with the likes of Kwena Maphaka and Tristan Luus proving formidable. However, a resilient partnership between Saharan and Dhas once again steered India through a chastening trial, ensuring their place in the final.

This intense victory under pressure undoubtedly served as invaluable preparation for the young Indian unit ahead of the ultimate showdown against Australia in the final. India have been dominant batting first in the tournament, winning each of their first five games by setting up a target. Three of those five wins came by a margin of over 200 runs.

Hugh Weibgen’s Australian side navigated the group stage with varying levels of dominance, and importantly, different players have come to the fore at different stages in the competition.

Led by Callum Vidler, their pacers dominated Namibia, but they needed skipper Weibgen to save them from a difficult position and carry them to a win. Against Zimbabwe, Harry Dixon starred with the bat before Harkirat Bajwa’s bowling dismantled the opposition. Rounding off their group stage fixtures, Ryan Hicks came to the rescue in their win against Sri Lanka that cemented their position atop the table.

In the Super Six stage, Weibgen’s sensational century against rivals England set the tone for a dominant win in Kimberley. Next, despite a batting slip-up against West Indies, Sam Konstas’ century helped Australia post a competitive total before rain intervened and helped them seal the top spot in Group 2.

In the semifinals against Pakistan, Australia’s batting faltered yet again after Tom Straker’s six-wicket haul had put them on top. Digging deep, they managed to scrape through by one wicket to set up a mouth-watering tie against India.

Australia have endured shaky moments in each of their three run-chases in the tournament to date. Meanwhile, in the two games they batted first, they won by 225 and 110 runs respectively. Sunday’s clash will go in favour of the team that will hold its nerves better and apply themselves well.

–IANS

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