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Under-19 cricket World Cup 2018: 5 key players for India ahead of final vs Australia

Ahead of the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup final between India and Australia, we take a look at 5 players who could be difference makers for the Rahul Dravid-coached side.

cricket Updated: Feb 02, 2018 17:55 IST
Ankit Kumar Singh
Both Prithvi Shaw (R) and Shubman Gill will be key to India’s hopes of lifting the ICC U-19 World Cup for a record 4th time.
Both Prithvi Shaw (R) and Shubman Gill will be key to India’s hopes of lifting the ICC U-19 World Cup for a record 4th time. (AFP)

India’s run to the final of the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup final has left many fans surprised. India are normally a tough side to beat at this level but the domination which the current side has exhibited has not been lost on the cricketing world.

Ahead of the summit clash between India and Australia, we take a look at 5 players who could be difference makers for the Rahul Dravid-coached side.

Prithvi Shaw

Prithvi Shaw announced himself at the age of 14 when he slammed a record-breaking 546 in an inter-school Harris Shield match in 2013. Coincidentally, Sachin Tendulkar was also 14 when he first came into prominence in 1988.

After performing consistently in age group and club cricket, Shaw made it to Mumbai’s playing XI in their Ranji semi-final against Tamil Nadu in 2017. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring a hundred on his first-class debut.

Later, he also hit a ton on his Duleep Trophy debut and thus equalled his idol Tendulkar’s record of scoring a ton in his debut matches of both Ranji and Duleep Trophy.

Shaw has been in good form in the ongoing Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand scoring a 94 against Australia in the opening match to set up a 90-run victory. Shaw, so far, has accumulated 232 runs in five World Cup matches at 77.73.

On Saturday, Shaw, bought by Delhi Daredevils for ~1.2 crore, would look to shoulder the responsibility and become the fourth captain after Mohammed Kaif (2000), Virat Kohli (2008) and Unmukt Chand (2012) to lift U-19 World Cup.

Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Kamlesh Nagarkoti grabbed eyeballs by consistently bowling above 140kph. His gem was one that castled Australia’s Will Sutherland which was hurled at 145kph during India’s opener in the U-19 World Cup.

The 18-year-old, who hails from Rajasthan, had made a name for himself even before the World Cup though. Only two days after making his List A debut for his state team in the Vijay Hazare Trophy on February 26, 2017, he claimed a hat-trick against Gujarat. With this, he became the first player from Rajasthan to take a hat-trick in List A cricket.

Son of a retired Subedar in the Indian Army, Nagarkoti has 7 wickets in 5 matches in the tournament with an exceptional average of 15.14. Though he was quite good in all the matches, he kept his best for India’s quarter-final against Bangladesh where he bagged 3/18 to fashion India’s 131-run win.

Nagarkoti was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders for ~3.2 crore at the IPL auction in Bangalore making him the most expensive U-19 buy.

Shivam Mavi

Like Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi has emerged as a pace sensation in the U-19 World Cup. He has consistently clocked in the range of 140-145 kph, unsettling batsmen with raw pace. With a tally of 8 wickets at an impressive average of 15.50 in 5 matches, he has given India early breakthroughs more often than not. His best bowling spell of the World Cup came against Australia in the first match when he took 3/45.

Son of a businessman, Shivam hails from Noida in Uttar Pradesh and is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Al-Falah University in Faridabad. He first caught the attention of national selectors in the zonal Challengers tournament where he bagged 9 wickets in 4 matches.

Shivam, who considers South African pacer Dale Steyn as his role model, was in high demand during the IPL auction last week. He emerged a millionaire with Mumbai Indians shelling out ~3 crore for him. Great as the deal is, the youngster’s immediate concern would be to continue his good bowling form in the all-important final against Australia on Saturday.

Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill’s 18-year-old shoulders are burdened with huge expectations. Just look at the stars the ICC Under-19 Cricket Worlds Cups have produced for India.

Yuvraj Singh (2000); Mohammed Kaif (2000); Shikhar Dhawan (2004); and Virat Kohli (2008): here are the men in whose footsteps Gill will be walking. The right-handed batsman has been in cracking form throughout the tournament in New Zealand.

He made 63 against Australia, 90* against Zimbabwe and 86 against Bangladesh in the quarters. On Tuesday, he came up with another outstanding performance, scoring an unbeaten hundred to fashion India’s 203-run victory over Pakistan in the second semi-final at Hagley Oval.

Gill has 341 runs in five matches at an average of 170.50 and a strike rate of 113.28 in the World Cup. Only West Indian Alick Athanaze, with 418 runs from six matches, has more. The Punjab lad will look to continue his hot streak and help India lift the coveted trophy for the fourth time vs Australia.

Abhishek Sharma

Cricket runs in his blood as his father Raj Kumar Sharma was an age-group player for Punjab. He came into limelight as a 15-year-old when he led Punjab and helped them win the U-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy. Since then, he has not looked back.

Though in this edition of U-19 World Cup, Abhishek has not done enough with the bat scoring only 78 runs in 5 matches, he has more than compensated for it with a superb show with the ball.

With his nagging left-arm spin, he has been economical and bagged 6 wickets at an average of 11. His best figures came in the quarter-final match against Bangladesh where he claimed 2/11 in 5 overs. Delhi Daredevils snapped him up for ~55 lakh at the auction.