The script was unfolding on the lines of 1983 World Cup but 145 proved too thin in the end for India to defend; however, the bowlers, led by Mayank Dagar, made sure the team didn’t go down tamely.
West Indies had to fight to claim every inch of the ground but Keacy Carty held his nerves with a dogged 52 not out off a laborious 125 balls to help his team win by five wickets with just three balls to spare.
Despite Sarfaraz Khan’s fourth fifty of the tournament, where he held one end up, Indian batsmen, put in to bat, fell prey to West Indies pacers led by Alzarri Joseph (3 for 39).
But Dagar’s 3 for 25 was backed by disciplined bowling from all Indian bowlers, though West Indies ensured there were no hiccups before crossing the ribbon for their maiden ICC U-19 World Cup trophy.
Had India won, they would have overtaken Australia’s tally of three U-19 World Cup titles.
Other than Carty, the hero of West Indies’ chase was Keemo Paul (40*), as he supported his senior partner when pressure built up after India plugged the runs with some quick blows.
Chasing the modest target, the Caribbean team was not off to the best of starts as both their openers - Gifron Pope (3) and Tevin Imlach (15) - were dismissed with just 28 runs on the board.
Skipper Shimron Hetmyer (23) and Carty then put together a 39-run third-wicket stand to steady the rocking boat.
However, left-arm spinner Dagar gave India the much-needed breakthrough when he got Hetmyer caught at long-on by Armaan Jaffer.
Next man in was Shamar Springer (3), West Indies’ most successful batsman of the tournament with 282 runs prior to the final. But the right-hander could not make an impact on Sunday and struggled for nine deliveries before an attempted slog sweep had him caught by Jaffer, off Dagar again.
While wickets were tumbling around him, Carty kept his cool to plough on even though the scoring rate was painfully slow.
Proceedings livened up when Carty was joined by Paul. The 17-year-old Paul pushed hard for his singles and it was his six off Dagar which broke the shackles for West Indies after a lengthy stretch of dot balls.
The 69-run stand between Carty and Paul made all the difference in the end as the unbeaten Indians finally found their match in the summit clash.
The Indian fielders were also guilty of spilling a few good chances, which could have tilted the match in their team’s favour.
Earlier, put in to bat by the Caribbeans on a green-top amid overcast conditions, the script went completely awry for the Indians, who were dismissed in 45.1 overs with Sarfaraz’s 89-ball 51 being the only noteworthy contribution.
The same batsmen, who helped India stay unbeaten earlier in the competition, failed to apply themselves in the big game.
Sarfaraz was the lone exception as he saved India the embarrassment of being bowled out for a sub-100 total with a fifth fifty-plus score in six innings, also making him only one to score most half centuries (7) in the history of the tournament.
While the Indian batting flattered to deceive, the West Indies bowlers did well to exploit the conditions. Joseph ran through top order before Ryan John (3 for 38) landed crucial blows for his team.
India, aiming for an unprecedented fourth title, lost their top three for 27 runs, all falling to Joseph.
Chemar Holder kept things tight to maintain pressure on the Indian batsmen, conceding only 20 runs in 10 overs with a timely wicket of Mahipal Lomror.
India badly needed a decent partnership to put up a respectable total but that did not happen as Sarfaraz kept running out of partners until he missed a cross-batted shot to be caught plumb in front, leaving his team at 120 for 8.
The tail did not contribute much but it was not expected to after an ordinary batting effort earlier in the innings.
(With PTI inputs)