Australia and India will face off in the final of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup at the Bay Oval in Tauranga on Saturday. Australia and India have won the title three times each. India are the favourites on paper, having defeated Australia by 100 runs in the tournament opener. India have also won the previous two matches between the two sides, including the 2012 final. And if recent form is anything to go by, India, coached by Rahul Dravid, are oozing with confidence having inflicted a massive 203-run win over Pakistan in the semi-final. What’s more, India have won every single game in the big event with the 100-run win over Australia in the group stages being their lowest margin of victory.
But Australia, who beat Afghanistan by six wickets in the semifinal, have gradually peaked, improving their show with every game. Australian players have produced the two best bowling performances so far with pacer Jason Ralston’s seven for 15 against Papua New Guinea and leggie Lloyd Pope’s eight for 35 in a tense, low-scoring quarter-final against England. Although Ralston, since injured, will not be available, the team still boasts of a strong bowling lineup.
India, meanwhile, will be hoping Shubman Gill, who has scored 341 runs at a strike rate of 170.50 and skipper Prithvi Shaw, who has scored 232 runs at a strike rate of 77.33, to fire on the big day. Although the Indian middle order is yet to be truly tested, their bowling exploits too have been nothing short of splendid.
Anukul Roy, the 19-year-old elf-arm spinner from Jharkhand, has been the standout bowler while Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi have hogged much of the attention with their express pace.
This is the fifth time that Australia have made the final of the tournament. India are playing the final for the sixth time. They lost to the West Indies in the 2014 final.
Australia: Jason Sangha (captain), Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter Holt, Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Patrick Rowe, Will Sutherland, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh.
India: Prithvi Shaw (captain), Harvik Desai, Shubman Gill, Aryan Juyal, Manjot Kalra, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Riyan Parag, Ishan Porel, Himanshu Rana, Anukul Roy, Abhishek Sharma, Arshdeep Singh, Shiva Singh, Pankaj Yadav.