Manjot Kalra, the Delhi lad who batted India to the U-19 Cricket World Cup title
Manjot Kalra’s 101* helped India U-19 cricket team hammer Australia by eight wickets at Mount Maunganui as Rahul Dravid’s boys continued their rampant run in the tournament to lift the trophy.cricket Updated: Feb 03, 2018 13:44 IST
Explosive left-handed opening batsman Manjot Kalra on Saturday played the most crucial knock of his career so far, smacking an unbeaten 101 to power India to their fourth ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup win. (IND v AUS highlights) (Full scorecard)
Kalra’s 101 not out helped India hammer Australia by eight wickets at Mount Maunganui as the Indian Colts continued their rampant run in the tournament to lift the trophy.
Opening with his captain Prithvi Shaw (29), Kalra once again provided India U-19 a rollicking start. Kalra and Shaw’s partnerships played a vital role for India throughout their campaign in New Zealand. On Saturday, they added 71 runs after the Indian bowlers restricted Australia to 216 in 47.2 overs.
In a tricky chase, while Shaw looked a little restrained, it was Kalra who took the attack to the opposition. Clearing his frontfoot to smack a massive six over long-on off a free-hit, Kalra continued to play his strokes audaciously and never looked like taking unwanted risks.
He faced 102 balls and clobbered eight fours and three sixes to help India win the contest.
Chasing a modest 217 to win, India cruised past the target with as many as 67 balls to spare. Harvik Desai remained unbeaten on 47, whereas Shubman Gill had a rare failure as he fell for 31.
Having started the World Cup with an 86-run knock against Australia, Kalra had a dip in form which saw him scoring a total of 18 in next three matches. He did not bat in the group stage match against Papua New Guinea.
However, it was in the big semifinal against arch rivals Pakistan that Kalra was back among runs, as he cracked seven fours to score 47.
His quick hands, ability to pierce the gaps ferociously and not being subdued in pressure situations gave an example of a fine batsman in making, who was embarrassingly asked to once again to undergo age-verification test by his home board, Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) despite BCCI’s clearance.
Before that episode, Kalra had cemented his claim for a spot in the U-19 World Cup squad with a fine century against England in an away Youth Test. The left-hander smacked 122 off 117 balls in that outing.
In the U-19 Challenger Trophy final in November 2017, Kalra’s 72 fired India Blue to a comfortable 39-run victory.
But Kalra had made his first impression in the Cooch Behar Trophy 2016-17, scoring 742 runs in the tournament to power Delhi to the final. He hammered one century and six fifties, averaging 49.47 in the tournament.
Kalra’s century on Saturday reminded Indian cricket fans of another superlative innings played by a Delhi batsman, as Unmukt Chand’s 111 not out in the 2012 U-19 World Cup final had helped India beat Australia.