U19 World Cup: Raj Bawa, Nishant Sindhu the stars as all-round India beat England to win record-extending fifth title
India registered a four-wicket victory over England in a thriller to win their fifth Under-19 World Cup title.
For the fifth time in history, India are the Under-19 World Champions. Yash Dhull led his inspirational unit of boys gallantly as India continued to write history, defeating England by four wickets in the final to be crowned winners of the 2022 Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Antigua. It was during the wee hours of Sunday at home that India were crowned world champions, emerging supreme in their ninth final across 14 editions.
This is an exceptional feat, given the fact that the Indian players had battled Covid-19, and as a result of which they were forced to a depleted team in two group matches. They lost high-profile players, including captain Dhull and still managed to remain unbeaten. And once the boys recovered, there was no looking back. A fully-strengthened Indian team ran roughshod over their opponents - South Africa, Ireland, Uganda, Bangladesh, Australia, and now England.
Once the bowlers gave India the perfect start – Raj Bawa claimed a historic five-wicket-haul to be named Player of the Match – half-centuries from Nishant Sindhu and Shaik Rasheed ensured India got over the line. In a topsy-turvy final, the Indian bowlers ran through the English batting order, bowling them out on 189; however, their chase of 190 wasn't as easy. India slipped to 97/4 before a rearguard effort from Sindhu and Bawa brought them back into the match. England kept chipping away but Sindhu's steely resolve kept their hopes alive. As he grittily held one end, Dinesh Bana creamed consecutive sixes to win India their fifth Under-19 World Cup win. With the win, Dhull joined an elusive list comprising Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli, Unmukt Chand and Prithvi Shaw.
England were the happier side after winning the toss as Dhull had also wanted to bat first in Antigua; however, the cheer in English camp didn't last long as Ravi Kumar - who finished with four wickets himself - struck twice within the first three overs - removing danger man Jacob Bethell (2) and captain Prest (0) cheaply. England failed to recover from early blows as George Thomas (27) gave away a strong start. James Rew (95) held fort at one end even as wickets continued to tumble at the other.
Bawa dismissing William Luxton (4) and George Bell (0) off successive deliveries to put England under severe pressure. Things went from bad to worse with Rehan Ahmed and wicketkeeper-batter Alex Hourton falling for 10 each. Rew went on to stitch a crucial a 93-run stand for the eighth wicket with James Sales before he was caught in spectacular fashion in the deep by Kaushal Tambe off Kumar. The pacer then went on to grab his fourth of the match in the same over, sending Thomas Aspinwall packing for a duck. Bawa applied the finishing touches, wrapping up the England innings with the wicket of Joshua Boyden.
In response, India got off to a shaky start as opener Angkrish Raghuvanshi returned for a second-ball nought. His partner Harnoor Singh, along with Rasheed, added 49 runs for the second wicket. Aspinwall broke the stand but Rasheed continued his impressive run and, completing his second straight fifty. Rasheed's innings came to an end soon though as he perished for 50, and Dhull's wicket for 17 off 32 balls offered England an opening. But that's where the never-give-up attitude of this young Indian team came to the fore. With another 93 runs away from victory, Bawa and Sindhu came together for a match-altering 67-run partnership. The two batters took time to settle in and did not rush, maintaining the asking run-rate and going about their business without too much risk.
The shackles broke in the 40th over, when Sindhu smoked Rehan for the first six of the Indian innings. Off the next ball, it was Bawa's turn to go big and boy, big did he go. The 50-run partnership between the two was up and India looked set for a comfortable win. The alliance knocked the wind out of England's sails as their wait for a breakthrough prolonged. With India looking set to seal a six-wicket victory, Boyden got England breathing again with the wicket of Bawa.
And if that wasn't enough, with 16 needed, India were dealt another blow as Tambe slashed to Rehan at point. Thankfully for them, Sindhu kept his nerves. He played some dot balls, but when the time came, dispatched a wide ball from Sales for a boundary and followed it up with a single to complete his half-century off 54 balls. There is something about India and their wicketkeeper batters hitting a six to win the World Cup, and on this evening, Bana channeled his inner MS Dhoni and drilled back-to-back sixes to win India the Under-19 World Cup.