India and Australia, the two finalists of the ICC U19 World Cup, will both go into the big final on Saturday (February 3) knowing that winning the final will make their respective teams the most successful ones in the history of the U19 World Cup. Both these sides have won the tournament on three different occasions and have a fairly even head-to-head record against each other.
Indian colts, though have had the edge over their Australian counterparts in recent years and have also beaten them earlier in the current tournament. India had beaten Australia by 100 runs in their first match of the ongoing U19 World Cup besides also winning the previous two matches against them including at the 2012 final, which was the last of India’s three titles. Australia’s wins against India in the tournament came way back in 1988 and 1998.
The Rahul Dravid-coached Indian team has come across as the most balanced side at this U19 World Cup in New Zealand, with Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw leading the batting well at the top and an extremely potent fast bowling attack giving captain Prithvi Shaw several options as they look to add a fourth title to the ones India U19 have already won in 2000, 2008 and 2012.
On the eve of the big U19 World Cup final on Saturday, India captain Prithvi Shaw said that he was fairly confident of his team’s chances against Australia in the final. Shaw also expressed his joy at seeing his fast bowling triumvirate of Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Ishan Porel doing so well in the tournament.
“Whenever the team’s needed them, they (fast bowlers) have provided the breakthroughs. They’re ready whenever I ask them to bowl. They’ve good intensity as well, their fitness is great as well. All of them . Kamlesh (Nagarkoti), (Ishan) Porel, (Shivam) Mavi. It helps us all have a good attitude in the field, we’re all really pumped up when our fast bowlers do well,” Prithvi Shaw said.
Australia’s U19 coach Ryan Harris had questioned the lack of game-time that the Indian middle-order has had in the tournament and that they will looking to take advantage of India’s middle-overs fragility but Shaw made it clear that he was not bothered by the fact that his team’s batting line-up had not been tested enough with the openers getting solid starts in all but one of five matches, including two century partnerships, and number three batsman Gill aggregating 341 runs at an average of 170.50, including one innings as opener.
“I have confidence that even if we get one partnership, we can take charge of the match and take the score to 250-300. If you look at our match against Australia too, we put up a good total, even though we lost a couple of wickets after an early partnership. The middle order also controlled the innings well,” he stated.
Shaw, though also urged his teammates to not get carried away with their unbeaten run in the tournament and said that Australia had a better side than the one they had beaten early on and that he would focus on his own team doing well.