The Indian U19 cricket team lost by 79 runs to Australia in the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup at South Africa’s Benoni on Sunday, in what was a painful repeat of the ICC Senior World Cup last year, where overwhelming favourites India had lost to the Australians at home.
Batting first on Sunday at Benoni after winning the toss, the Australians had set India a target of 254 runs, thanks to a half century from Harjas Singh (55 runs), his first of the tournament.
Batters like captain Hugh Weibgen (48), Oliver Peake (46) and Harry Dixon (42) had propelled the Australians to the highest total in an U-19 World Cup final.
India, who are five-time U-19 champions, were chasing a record sixth title. They were the defending champions. They were unbeaten in the tournament, having vanquished Bangladesh, Ireland, USA, New Zealand, Nepal as well as hosts South Africa in a tense semi-final.
Australia thus won their fourth U19 World Cup title. Barring India and Australia, only Pakistan have won more than one World Cup titles at the U19 level.
Pacer Raj Limbani was the most effective for India in the final on Sunday, claiming three wickets for 38 runs in his 10 overs. Meanwhile, Naman Tiwary snapped up two wickets.
When India came out to bat, they lost opener Arshin Kulkarni for just three runs, and slumped to 91 for 6 at one stage. Only opener Adarsh Singh (47 off 77 balls), Musheer Khan (22), Murugan Abhishek (42) and Naman Tiwari managed to score into double figures. With just two wickets left, India saw its biggest partnership on the day with Murugan and Tiwari posting 46 together.
Mahli Beardman, who claimed three wickets, was named the Player of the Match. Meanwhile, South Africa’s Kwena Maphaka was the players of the tournament.
Uday Saharan, who was the tournament’s leading run scorer with a tally of 389 runs coming into the final, departed for eight runs.
The defeat was also a throwback to the 2003 senior World Cup, where the Indian cricket team was trounced in the final by the Australians in a tournament that was held in testing South African conditions. Back in 2003, the Sourav Ganguly-led team had lost the final by 125 runs.