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Manjot Kalra and Bowlers Star as India Lift Historic Fourth U-19 World Cup Title

Manjot Kalra slammed a majestic century when it mattered the most while bowlers also came up with the good as India thumped Australia by eight wickets to lift their fourth ICC Under-19 World Cup title Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, on Saturday.

Cricketnext Staff |February 4, 2018, 8:49 AM IST
Manjot Kalra and Bowlers Star as India Lift Historic Fourth U-19 World Cup Title

New Delhi: Manjot Kalra slammed a majestic century when it mattered the most while bowlers also came up with the goods as India thumped Australia by eight wickets to lift their fourth ICC Under-19 World Cup title at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, on Saturday.

Manjot remained unbeaten on 101 while he was ably supported by Harvik Desai (47*) as India crossed the finish line in just 38.5 overs. Delhi-boy Manjot Kalra emerged as the man for big occasion, scoring a sublime ton and anchoring the innings after the loss of skipper Prithvi Shaw and team's leading scorer in the tournament, Shubman Gil.

With a fourth crown, India surpassed Australia in the race of most U-19 World Cup titles. Prior to the final, India and Australia were locked at three titles each. The team's performance was also a fitting tribute to coach Dravid, who finally got his hands on a World Cup trophy. Under Dravid, the side had finished runner-up in the 2016 edition in Bangladesh.

India's previous title came in Australia six years ago when the Unmukt Chand-led team beat the hosts in the final. The Virat Kohli-led side was victorious in 2008 and Mohammed Kaif was captain when India triumphed way back in 2000.

SHAW

In the current edition, India were the overwhelming favourites and they played like one, dishing out dominant performances one after the other. The gulf between them and other teams was clearly evident. In the playing eleven of the final, India fielded five players with First-Class experience while Australia had just one in captain Jason Sangha.

Having lost skipper Shaw (29) and Gill (31), Kalra displayed commendable calm and composure to see the team through. Harvik Desai (47 not out) provided the support Kalra needed after India were 131 for two in the 22nd over, needing another 86 for victory.

Kalra, who had smashed a match-winning 86 against Australia in the tournament opener, was in devastating touch again. He hammered the spinners for huge sixes and showed his silken touch by beautifully driving the pacers through covers.

In the end, he finished with eight fours and three sixes. It was only fitting that he reached the three figures in the last over of the final. Desai hit the winning boundary, sending the team members and the packed crowd into frenzy.

Earlier, the first innings swung back and forth between India and Australia a fair few times, before India crucially grabbed the impetus in the final overs. Australia were bowled out for 216 in 47.2 overs, after Jonathan Merlo’s vital 102-ball 76 had defied India's attack through the middle overs.

Asked to field first, India seemed nervous in the early stages. Max Bryant was dropped on four off admittedly a tough chance. Harvik Desai had butter fingers behind the stumps – he dropped three chances in all – and there were a couple of overthrows that saw them needless concede runs. All of which allowed Australia to get off to a good start in front of a buzzing crowd at the Bay Oval.

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Bryant rode his luck while Edwards muscled his way around the field, and after five overs Australia had 32 on board, with the usually reliable Shivam Mavi conceding 12 runs in an over. Ishan Porel then got the breakthrough for India, Bryant slashing one straight to point. The Indian pacemen took the window to get back into the game, with Porel getting Edwards dismissed for 28 before Kamlesh Nagarkoti had Jason Sangha (13) caught behind. With Australia at 59/3, India were well ahead.

Merlo and Param Uppal then got together to revive the innings. It was an excellent partnership while it lasted, the batsmen ensuring the Indian spinners – Anukul Roy, Shiva Singh and Abhishek Sharma – didn’t run them ragged. In fact, they kept the runs flowing, threading the gaps and prompting Prithvi Shaw, the Indian captain, into a slightly defensive field.

Uppal looked exceptionally comfortable against spin, happily popping on his back foot, playing late. Merlo was a study in contrast, relying on unorthodox strokes to deal with the turning ball. He did that effectively though, playing 14 sweeps and reverse sweeps that yielded 22 runs. The partnership eventually was broken by Roy, who had Uppal mistiming a nurdle to square leg, forcing a leaning edge back to the bowler. It was a crucial breakthrough.

Merlo shouldered most of the run-scoring responsibilities thereafter, bringing up his half-century off just 60 balls. He added 49 with Nathan McSweeney, who pushed a few around and struck a couple of boundaries to score 23. Shiva had him chipping one back thereafter, and with Will Sutherland’s stay in the middle lasting just eight deliveries, Australia were 191/6 in the 42 over.

Sensing a need to attack, Merlo decided to go for his shots but an attempted reverse slog-sweep found more height than distance – he holed out for a 102-ball 72, but his was a fine effort, and a significant Aussie support applauded him warmly as he walked back in. India didn’t take long to nip out the tail.

((With Agency Inputs))

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