India’s batting lineup misfired when it mattered the most as Uday Saharan and Co. faltered in the chase of 254 in the summit clash at the Willowmoore Park.
The loss was also India’s third straight defeat against Australia in an ICC event — World Test Championship Final and ODI World cup Final in 2023.
Dashing India’s dreams of a record-extending sixth title triumph, the Australian colts added a fresh chapter to the script of Australia’s domination over India in the ICC World Cup finals with a crushing win.
As It Happened
Batting by choice, the Aussies posted a healthy 253 for seven as India were forced to mount the highest chase in a youth World Cup summit clash.
But Uday Saharan’s side floundered in the final step to glory, stumbling to 174 all out as the relentless Aussie bowlers led by the furious Mahli Beardman (3/15) and the crafty off-spinner Raf MacMillan (3/43) did not give them any breathing space.
This was Australia’s fourth U19 title and first since 2010 and, in a way, they also washed away the pain of losing to India in two title matches in 2012 and 2018.
Many would view this result as a continuation of Australia’s win over India in the senior World Cup last year at Ahmedabad.
Pacer Callum Vidler started Australia’s victory march by packing off Indian opener Arshin Kulkarni, inducing an edge to stumper Ryan Hicks.
From that point, India simply failed to stitch together any meaningful partnerships as frontline batters including skipper Saharan (8), Musheer Khan, who received a reprieve on zero, and Sachin Dhas (9) departed without making any real contributions.
Beardman broke through the defence of Musheer (22) with a delivery that kept a tad low, while the pacer tempted Saharan, the tournament’s highest run-getter, with a slightly wide delivery on off-stump, but his slash ended in the hands of Hugh Weibgen at point.
Beardman later added the wicket of opener Adarsh Singh, who was India’s highest scorer on the day with a 77-ball 47, to bulldoze the Indian batting unit with pace and bounce.
If the Indian batters could not cope with the hostility of Beardman, a disciple of legendary Dennis Lillee, they could not counter the guile of MacMillan, Australia’s lone spinner this day.
MacMillan was introduced in the 20th over and he dismissed Dhas off his first ball, a regulation catch to Hicks behind the stumps.
India were reduced to 68 for four then, and ouster of the free-flowing Dhas was a body blow to their chances.
The strapping offie later also bagged the wickets of Aravelly Avanish and Raj Limbani, preventing any late Indian punch back.
Murugan Abhishek (42, 45b) tried gamely in the company of Naman Tiwari adding 46 runs for the ninth wicket, highest of the innings, but the task proved beyond his reach.
However, the Australian batters too can claim the right amount of credit for this triumph.
No one really made a tall score but they fired collectively around Harjas Singh (55, 64b, 3×4, 3×6) to give the Antipodeans a competitive total to defend amidst strikes by Indian pacers Limbani (3/38) and Tiwari (2/63).
Limbani, who worked up a fair clip from the pitch, bowled opener Sam Konstas with a lovely in-coming delivery to deny the Aussies a quick start as they have done often in this tournament.
But the Australians found stability through Harry Dixon (42, 56 balls) and skipper Weibgen (48, 66 balls).
Dixon, in fact, started off in a blazing fashion, hammering left-arm pacer Tiwari (2/63) for 4, 6, 4 in the second over, but he settled into a more sedate rhythm in the company of Weibgen.
The hallmark of their second-wicket alliance of 78 runs in 18.1 overs, was the way they negated the Indian spinners, a massive restrictive force throughout this showpiece.
There were no big hits but Dixon and Weibgen managed to push the scoreboard forward with those singles and twos.
Just as the stand was coasting along, Saharan threw the ball to Tiwari, who was withdrawn after an expensive first spell.
Tiwari answered his leader’s call in the perfect fashion getting rid of a set Weibgen, whose drive away from the body nestled in the hands of Musheer at point.
The left-arm quick dismissed Dixon two overs later to bring India back into the game. The Aussies were 99 for three then. But Harjas and Ryan Hicks (20) added 66 runs in 11.2 overs for the fourth wicket to keep their team afloat.
Harjas struggled early on, but a six and a four in successive balls off off-spinner Priyanshu Moliya gave him the much-needed confidence.
The left-hander was a transformed player from that point and nullified the off-breaks of Abhishek with a series of sweeps and slog-sweeps, and two of them landed deep inside the stands for maximums.
Harjas completed his first fifty of the tournament with a four off Tiwari to long-off but failed to stay longer as another attempt to sweep left-arm spinner Saumey Pandey saw him getting adjudged leg-before.
But Oliver Peake (46 not out off 43 balls) and Charlie Anderson (13) added precious 34 runs for the seventh-wicket that pushed Aussies to a sufficient total.
(With inputs from PTI)