Both teams are packed with talent and have dazzled us with some incredible performances during the tournament
India will play Australia in the 2nd semi-final of the ongoing Under-19 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies, after sealing their spot in the last four with a thumping five-wicket win over defending champions Bangladesh yesterday. The match will be played on Thursday (12:00am AEDT, February 3).
Australia also saw off Pakistan comfortably in their quarter-final match at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, with a brilliant all-round show. The final is slated to be played at the same venue on February 7, 12:00am AEDT.
The 1st semi-final clash, on February 2, will be played between England and Afghanistan.
India captain, Yash Dhull, sounded happy at the post-match ceremony after beating Bangladesh: “Our team combination has been very good and the boys are gelling well. Whenever someone is down, we all get together to bring them up. It is a lifetime experience here.”
Dhull also thanked National Cricket Academy (NCA) head VVS Laxman, who is touring with the side, for his guidance during the tournament.
The U19 team is coached by former India international Hrishikesh Kanitkar, while Sairaj Bahutule is the bowling coach and Munish Bali the fielding coach.
Not surprisingly, all teams in the draw have been severely restricted by COVID-19, with several players missing crucial matches after testing positive. Canada even had to withdraw from the tournament after they failed to field a team after most of their players got infected and had to isolate. Officials are hoping that full teams can play in the crucial semi-final matches.
It has been a tough tournament for both India and Australia with regards to player availability. India was without 12 players for their clash with Uganda and had to call in six reserves to play with the non-infected members of their squad. Australia too had trouble with COVID-issues. Fast bowler Tom Whitney missed Australia’s must-win group match with Scotland after testing positive but was able to return for the quarter-final win over Pakistan on Friday.
Tasmanian Tigers cricketer, Nivethan Radhakrishnan, one of Australia’s best players, missed both the Scotland and Pakistan games and Australian staff are fervently hoping that he recovers in time to play against India. He is an all-rounder who bats left-handed and is dextrous enough to bowl Right arm off-break and slow left arm orthodox equally well. He has been bowling with both arms since he was six.
Radhakrishnan, was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu in 2002. He moved to Sydney in 2013 at the age of 10, with his parents and older sibling. In 2019, he played for an Australian Under-16 team in Dubai and was also a net-bowler for IPL franchise Delhi Capitals last year. He joined the Tasmanian Tigers team last year too.
It will be difficult to predict a winner for the semis with both teams playing so well throughout the tournament. Australian batsmen have been in great form. Teague Wyllie has been prolific with big scores like 86, 101 and 71. Campbell Kellaway has also done brilliantly with an average of over 52, while Corey Miller showed what he is capable of with a superb 64 against a very good Pakistan bowling attack.
India’s bowlers have been a force to reckon with in this tournament. Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Ravi Kumar, Vicky Ostwal, Kaushal Tambe and Aneeshwar Gautam have dominated every opposition. Their combined bowling average of 14.11 has been the best in the tournament so far.
Among the batsmen to have stood out are Angkrish Raghuvanshi, who has shown brilliant form in almost all the matches he has played in, scoring 44 (against Bangladesh in the quarter-finals), 144 (against Uganda) and 79, with a strike rate of 100 (against Ireland), Raj Bawa who top-scored against Uganda with a masterful 162 and captain Yash Dhull, whose 82 off 100 balls helped India reach a total of 232 against South Africa.
So far, India has won the Under-19 World Cup a record four times and finished as runners-up thrice. In 2000, Mohammad Kaif led the team to victory for the first time; in 2008 it was Virat Kohli’s team; Unmukt Chand was the victorious captain in 2012 and the last time India won was in 2018, when Prithvi Shaw led the team.
India has lost in the finals three times. In 2006 they lost to Pakistan; in 2016 and 2020 to Bangladesh. Australia has won the Under-19 Cricket World Cup thrice – 1998, 2002 and in 2010.