Barring Sarfaraz Khan (355 runs) and Rishabh Pant (267 runs), the India Under-19 batsmen struggled to find their feet against pace at the U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.
In India’s six games at the recently-concluded tournament, it was Sarfaraz who played the anchor role to give every Indian innings a respectable end.
At the same time, others like skipper Ishan Kishan, Armaan Jaffer and Ricky Bhui did not impress. While all of them might be deft at playing seam bowling, they were found wanting against quality pace.
Though Pant did get a century and a record-fastest fifty against Nepal and Namibia, teams which didn’t have quality pacemen, he too failed against West Indies in the final against two genuinely quick pacers --- Alzari Joseph and Chemar Holder.
The two Caribbean bowlers caught the Indians off-guard with raw pace.
The Indian innings did not start well throughout the tournament as openers Kishan and Pant either failed to reach to the pitch of the delivery or were bounced out.
Earlier, against Ireland, Joshua Little’s pace in the mid-130s posed a threat with the new ball.
Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) chief coach Amay Khurasia, who also trains pacer Avesh Khan, had said on the eve of the final that he was eager to see how the Colts perform against West Indies’ 140-plus bowlers.
“It will be interesting to see how India U-19 batsmen play against West Indies. If they bat in the morning, it will be a real test of their skill-set. Until now, they haven’t come across teams who had genuine fast bowlers in their squad,” Khurasia said.
What eventually happened on Sunday morning at Mirpur testified Khurasia’s doubts.
Kishan was hit on the pads while Anmolpreet couldn’t adjust to pace and was caught behind. Only Sarfaraz showed intent and character and moved with the line of the ball. Sarfaraz’s first-class experience and IPL stint must have come handy but most of the others seemed to have been in a fix facing such speed for the first time in the tournament.