India U-19 team crushed their Australian counterparts by eight wickets in the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup final at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Saturday, February 3. (Full scorecard)
The Boys in Blue thereby created history in New Zealand as they became the first team to win the age-group title four times. Captain Prithvi Shaw joined an elite list of U-19 captains -- Mohammad Kaif (2000), Virat Kohli (2008) and Unmukt Chand (2012) who have led their respective Indian teams to sucess in the U-19 World Cup.
Shaw wasn't lucky at the start of the much-anticipated final as he lost the toss. Nonetheless, fast bowlers Ishan Porel and Shivam Mavi applied pressure on the Australian top-order early. The former removed the opposition openers cheaply.
19-year-old Jonathan Merlo top-scored for the Boys in Yellow with a steady 76 but he did not get enough support from his partners. Australia U-19 batsmen were never allowed to settle into the game as India's impressive bowling unit kept picking wickets at regular intervals.
Pacers Porel, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and spinners Anukul Roy, Shiva Singh picked up two wickets each to restrict Australia to an under-par total of 216.
Notably, Roy finished the tournament as the joint-highest wicket-taker with 14 scalps from six matches, thereby giving himself a good chance to win the Player of the Tournament Award. Also, Indian bowlers managed to bowl out oppositons every time they stepped on the field in the tournament.
Kalra unaffected by big-match pressure
In reply, Manjot Kalra struck his first century of the tournament in the all-important finalto help India create history. The left-handed opener looked confident from the word go and played some delightful strokes, including three sixes.
The Asian giants were untroubled in the chase as their batsmen stamped their authority over the Australians, who struggled to stop the run flow.
Earlier in the innings, skipper Shaw (29) along with Kalra laid a strong foundation with a 71-run stand. Star batsman Shubman Gill chipped in with a 30-ball 31, getting out for a score less than fifty for the first time in the tournament.
Notably, Gill fired India into the final by scoring a century in a one-sided semi-final against arch-rivals Pakistan on Wednesday, January 31.
Brief Scores: Australia 216/10 (Merlo 76; Ishan Porel 2/30, Shiva Singh 2/36) lost to India 220/2 (Kalra 101*; Will Sutherland 28/1).