Internet Desk: The ICC World Cup 2018 Final is going to be battle of titans as India to take on Australia to win the maximum number of U19 World Cup in its history as both the teams have won it thrice in the past. India U19 coach Rahul Dravid too would be dreaming to break the jinx of not winning the trophy in his life. Here goes the build up before the game:
The weather looks good in Tauranga for Saturday, with sunshine and 24 degrees forecast, meaning interruptions appear unlikely.
The venue for the Final
Bay Oval (also known as Blake Park) is a cricket ground in Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. The beautiful stadium has a capacity of 10,000 people and no doubt, it is expected that it will be a full house on Saturday.
A rich U19 World Cup history
Both the teams will be eyeing for their 4th U19 World Cup title. Australia have quite the pedigree in U19 Cricket World Cups, having won the first edition in 1988, as well as 2002 and 2010 titles. International players Stuart Law, George Bailey, Shaun Marsh and Josh Hazlewood have been among previous Aussie players to make a name for themselves at the competition.
India have also won three titles, claiming titles in 2000, 2008 and 2012. Their first competition win owed a lot to Player of the Tournament Yuvraj Singh, while Shikhar Dhawan won the same accolade in 2004, only for India to be pipped to the trophy by rivals Pakistan. Current Test skipper Virat Kohli captained the 2008 side, while India also narrowly lost in the final in 2016 to West Indies.
Road to the final
Both sides will be full of confidence coming into the final, having completed big wins in the semi-finals. Australia comfortably beat Afghanistan by six wickets, bowling them out for 181 and chasing the total inside 38 overs, while India thrashed rivals Pakistan, posting 272/9 from their 50 overs before dismantling the opposition, dismissing them for just 69.
While both sides have been impressive throughout the tournament, India will believe they have edge, being the only unbeaten side in the competition. Furthermore, Australia’s only defeat came against India in the sides’ first game of the competition back on 14 January.
The Group B fixture saw India’s top-order batting fire excellently, with openers Prithvi Shaw (94) and Manjot Khalra (86) putting on an opening stand of 180. India made an imposing 328/7 from their 50 overs before their bowlers dismissed the Australians for 228 to secure a 100-run win.
Since then, however, Australia have been ruthless, beating Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, England and Afghanistan, with their bowling attack taking the full 10 wickets in each match. As well as beating Australia in the first game, India have defeated Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Head to head
India got the better of Australia in their last meeting back on January 14 in their Group B opener. They also won in the last U19 World Cup final meeting between the two sides in 2012. Despite playing at home in Townsville, Australia slipped to a six-wicket loss to India. A side containing Travis Head, Cameron Bancroft, Ashton Turner and Gurinder Sandu were beaten by an Indian team which included Unmukt Chand and Sandeep Sharma.
The key players
Lloyd Pope (Aus)
The young leg-spinner made headlines around the world for his remarkable display against England in the quarter-final. After Australia had been bowled out for 127, the 18-year-old produced a stunning spell of bowling, taking 8/35 – the best U19 World Cup figures of all time – to dismiss England for 96 and reach the semi-finals. Australia wouldn’t be in the final without Pope and they will be hoping he can reproduce his brilliance a final time and add to his 11 wickets in the tournament.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti (Ind)
The fastest bowler of the tournament. Indian speedstar is regularly clocking the speed of 147km/h with an immaculate line and length. Not only that, his rare ability to swing the ball on both ways. If Australia is dreaming of winning the trophy, no doubt, Nagarkoti is going to be the biggest obstacle for sure. His fielding will be an added bonus.