India won a record-extending fifth U-19 World Cup title here on Saturday, beating England by four wickets in the final of an extraordinary campaign that was almost derailed by a COVID-19 outbreak.
The triumph bore resemblance to the exploits of world-class Indian U-19 teams of the past.
Intrepid and industrious in their approach, the starry-eyed Indian players’ success stories also gave a glimpse into the world’s most perfectly calibrated youth structure, which is capable of consistently producing world-class cricketers who are ever ready to take on the biggest of challenges.
Wicketkeeper Dinesh Bana finished the chase of 190 with two sixes and 14 balls to spare.
On winning the toss in the big final, England captain Tom Prest rightly chose to bat first to avoid the “scoreboard pressure” during the chase. India did the next best thing: bowl out the opposition for a total — 189 in this case, in 44.5 overs — that failed to put them under pressure.
India were all over England before a gritty 95 by James Rew saved his team’s blushes.
Bowling his medium-pacers to deadly effect, Raj Bawa (5/31) ran through the English middle-order after the in-form left-arm seamer Ravi Kumar (4/34) laid the opposition low with two early blows.
India kept taking wickets at regular intervals but not for once did the intensity of the team dropped.
For close to 19 overs, Rew and James Sales (34 not out) defied India with their 93-run eight-wicket stand, ensuring the 1998 edition winners recover from a poor 91/7.
In response, India lost Angkrish Raghuvanshi without a run on the board but the extremely talented Shaik Rasheed shone with a composed 50 off 84 balls.
Coming off his magnificent century in the semifinal against Australia, skipper Yash Dhull fell for 17, but the duo of Nishant Sindhu (50 not out) and Bawa (35) took the team within striking distance of victory with a 67-run partnership for the fifth wicket.