Disappointment gripped the Indian camp in Benoni as the Uday Saharan-led Team India tasted defeat, failing to defend the Under-19 World Cup title on Sunday. Australia emerged as the new champions after beating India by 70 runs in the big final. This was Australia’s fourth U19 title and first since 2010 and, in a way, they also washed away the pain of losing to India in two title matches in 2012 and 2018.
Chasing the highest-ever total of 253 in the history of the tournament finals, Saharan & stumbled to 174 all out as the relentless Aussie bowlers did not give them any breathing space.
Pacer Callum Vidler started Australia’s victory march by packing off Indian opener Arshin Kulkarni, inducing an edge to stumper Ryan Hicks. From that point, India simply failed to stitch together any meaningful partnerships as frontline batters including skipper Saharan (8), Musheer Khan, who received a reprieve on zero, and Sachin Dhas (9) departed without making any real contributions.
Beardman broke through the defence of Musheer (22) with a delivery that kept a tad low, while the pacer tempted Saharan, the tournament’s highest run-getter, with a slightly wide delivery on off-stump, but his slash ended in the hands of Hugh Weibgen at point. The Aussie quick later added the wicket of opener Adarsh Singh, who was India’s highest scorer on the day with a 77-ball 47, to bulldoze the Indian batting unit with pace and bounce.
If the Indian batters could not cope with the hostility of Beardman, a disciple of legendary Dennis Lillee, they could not counter the guile of MacMillan, Australia’s lone spinner this day. MacMillan was introduced in the 20th over and he dismissed Dhas off his first ball, a regulation catch to Hicks behind the stumps.
Murugan Abhishek (42, 45b) tried gamely in the company of Naman Tiwari adding 46 runs for the ninth wicket, highest of the innings, but the task proved beyond his reach. However, the Australian batters too can claim the right amount of credit for this triumph.