U19 World Cup wrap: India continue hot streak

2018 Under 19 World Cup

Much of the hype surrounding India at this tournament has been around their fast bowlers Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti and batsman Prithvi Shaw.

Today however, the pacers took just one wicket between them and Shaw didn’t bat – if you’d offered that outcome to Zimbabwe at the start they’d have been delighted to accept.

India instead relied on their change bowlers and spinners, who used the more prosaic methods of run-rate strangulation and pressure-building rather than searing pace to dismiss Zimbabwe for 154, which Shubman Gill and Harvik Desai, promoted to open to get time in the middle, chased down with ease.

The one wicket that did fall to the openers was an absolute pearler however, Mavi bending one back in from miles outside off between the chasm Zimbabwe opener Greg Dollar had left between bat and pad to hit the top of off. Zimbabwe were 7/1 and having extracted such extravagant movement one wondered whether they would collapse in a heap.

It is to their credit that they survived and fought to a platform of 110/3. But having done so, it will be much to their chagrin that they then squandered it with a collapse of 7/44. That was as much down to the squeeze applied by India as it was to Zimbabwean profligacy however.

Though the dismissals look bad in isolation – apart from Dollar, only top-scorer Milton Shumba, deceived in the flight and dragged out of his crease by Anukul Roy before being stumped by Harvik Desai, can claim to have been gotten out by an individual good ball – the poor shots played were largely forced on them; with few scoring options available, risks had to be taken.

Roy once again claimed the best figures, bowling with guile and accuracy. He now has 10 wickets in this tournament at an average of 7, and his efforts today put India well on the way to a third win in three.

The job was finished with aplomb by Desai and Gill, taking the attack to the Zimbabwe bowlers from the outset, in a hurry to finish the game as quickly as possible. Gill was particularly brutal, striking 14 fours and a six on his way to 90 off 59 for which he earned the player of the match award.

Prithvi Shaw is the most-hyped player at this tournament, and with good reason. But Gill now has an average of 103.33 from 13 Under 19 ODIs, and it would be folly not to track his career with interest as well.

This India team have swept all before them in the group stages, moving comfortably to the Super League quarter-finals. They will take some stopping.

 

A brutal 156 from Nathan McSweeney drove Australia to 370, before the best-ever U19 CWC figures from Jason Ralston dismissed Papua New Guinea for 59, although late rallies from Papua New Guinea restricted a total which looked set to finish well in excess of 400 at one stage and helped them avoid their lowest-ever U19 CWC total.

It was McSweeney’s first innings at this tournament, but there was no rustiness as he set about making up for lost time. The opener was particularly savage through and over the leg side, targeting the short boundary and striking into the trees time and again. Jakob Bhula’s two-day-old U19 record score of 180 looked in grave danger, as indeed did 200, but shortly after reaching his 150 with another towering six McSweeney was caught close to the wicket attempting another big shot.

Aside from that innings however, PNG can be pleased with how they limited Australia. An early wicket, remarkably their first in the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, sparked jubilant celebrations, and though a 250-run partnership followed, PNG at least managed to restrict the scoring of Australia’s captain Jason Sangha, who faced just nine fewer balls than McSweeney but scored 68 fewer runs.

Both men fell within the space of two balls to James Tau, and though there was no hat-trick, the bowling side managed to drag the run rate back somewhat. Austin Waugh especially struggled to score fluently, striking at less than 100 before being caught on the boundary, and while Param Uppal’s brisk knock included perhaps the biggest hit of the day, a huge six which cleared the straight boundary, PNG did not wilt, and managed to claim his and three other Australian wickets. The collapse of sorts read 5/35, though Australia still made 370.

With the bat Papua New Guinea again struggled early on, slipping to 26/7 within nine overs. The records for the shortest-ever U19 CWC innings (70 balls) and their lowest-ever total (53) looked in danger, but they managed to surpass both thanks to a gutsy knock of 20 from 42 balls by Leke Morea. He dragged PNG to 57/8, and when he fell, defeat soon followed.

Australia will be delighted by how Jason Ralston bowled in particular; with searing pace and accuracy he lopped off the the top, taking four of the first seven wickets to fall, before returning to claim the final three, finishing with figures of 7/15, the best-ever analysis in the U19 CWC. The final margin of 311 runs was the second-largest in a U19 CWC game.

In the grand scheme it might matter little, but the heart showed by PNG, after a chastening tournament and starts to their day in both disciplines deserves great credit.

Sri Lanka put up a fine fight, but Pakistan had simply done too much damage in the first innings of their must-win Group C clash. They sealed their spot in the quarter-finals of the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, along with Afghanistan, with a three-wicket victory at the Cobham Oval on Friday (19 January).

Hasan Khan, the Pakistan captain, called right at the toss and opted to bowl, wanting to restrict Sri Lanka to a low score and allow his batsmen to chase without scoreboard pressure. The first part of it went to plan, his bowlers trundling out Sri Lanka for 188 in 48.2 overs. However, Sri Lanka emerged for the second innings with supreme spirit, and it needed a watchful half-century from Ali Zaryab (59), and a supportive 45-ball unbeaten 24 from Hasan himself to sneak Pakistan across the line. They did so in 43.3 overs, ending at 190/7.

The fight Sri Lanka put up was lovely to see though. They emerged for the second innings with a war cry, and they put in a display that would have stirred even the most ardent Pakistan fan. Their fielders cheered their bowlers’ every move, and complimented them well in the field. And the bowlers delivered under a searing New Zealand sun. Thisaru Rashmika – who was Sri Lanka’s best bowler with 3/47 – had Rohail Nazir bowled for nought early on, and followed it up with the scalp of Ammad Alam (12).

A brief stand between Zaid Alam and Zaryab helped Pakistan recover from 25/2 and breach the 50-run mark, but Dhananjaya Lakshan induced an edge off Alam and Pakistan were nervy at 57/3. It could have led to a slide, but Mohammad Taha offered good support to Zaryab, and the two staged a recovery. There was no time pressure – there were plenty of overs remaining, and their target was small, allowing them to pick the singles.

Their 61-run stand was crucial in pegging Sri Lanka back, but when Taha (24) was adjudged caught behind – he didn’t think so, but the umpire did – he was followed back to the dressing room by Saad Khan (1) as well. Pakistan were a bit jittery at this point – they were losing wickets in a huff, and there was still a way to go. And Sri Lanka were buzzing.

Hasan came in and played a crucial captain’s knock. He took charge, taking almost no time to settle in, and with his captain batting with such ease, Zaryab could play his game. He soon brought up his half-century, as the two added 33 runs for the sixth wicket. Unfortunately for Pakistan, there was another mini-slide, with Zaryab nicking one to the ‘keeper and Shaheen Afridi (4) holing out shortly thereafter.

Captain Hasan was visibly displeased with his partners’ lack of staying power. The wickets raised the tension that much more, but Pakistan found an unlikely hero in Muhammad Musa. He rotated strike commendably, and hammered an 18-ball unbeaten 23, finishing things off in style with two consecutive sixes. Pakistan’s joy knew no bounds.

In the morning, the Pakistan opening bowlers Arshad Iqbal and Musa had Sri Lanka in trouble early on. They induced an edge off Nipun Perera (4) in the third over, and had Dhananjaya Lakshan and Krishan Sanjula back in the stands to stifle Sri Lanka at 48/3.

The most sickening blow, however, was still to come. Kamindu Mendis, the Sri Lanka captain, is a capable batsman, but his dismissal was disastrous – a run-out after an unfortunate miscommunication with Jehan Daniel. When Nuwanidu Fernando holed out shortly thereafter, Sri Lanka were five down and in dire straits.

It was then that Bandara and Daniel got together. They frustrated Pakistan, stonewalling as much as they could in the early stages. After settling in, they began playing their shots as well, with Daniel in particularly vengeful mood. There were some meaty blows off his willow, including a lofted six over long on. The Pakistan fielders were pushed back, the singles came easily, and their partnership burgeoned.

However, with the death overs approaching, they needed to up the scoring rate. It ended in their falls. Daniel notched up his half-century, but then holed out off Hasan, while Bandara was clean bowled in the very next over. The tail attempted to wag, but Pakistan snuffed them out.

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