India Under-19 side led by Prithvi Shaw made the whole country proud by registering a resounding 8-wicket victory over Australia in the final of ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on Saturday (February 3).
It was India’s fourth U-19 World Cup title, the most by any cricket playing nation. They had earlier won this coveted title in 2000, 2008 and 2012.
The remarkable bowling performance by Boys in Blue saw them limiting Australia to a below par total of 216. In reply, Prithvi Shaw and his men chased down the total with 8 wickets in hand and 67 balls to spare.
India U-19 team have literally steamrolled all their opponents in the Youth World Cup in New Zealand. While the Rahul Dravid-coached side registered mammoth victories in all 3 of their group matches against Australia, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe respectively, they thrashed Bangladesh U-19 in the quarter-final clash by 131 runs before humiliating arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-final by 203 runs.
Analysing the team’s performance after the historic achievement, junior selection committee chairman Venkatesh Prasad lauded the boys for their impeccable fielding throughout the campaign.
“We (selectors and support staff) were looking more at their attitude more than just batting or bowling. We were very particular at looking at the fielding aspect of the players. Fielding was impeccable – catching, direct hits,” Prasad told Sportstar.
“To me, fielding was extremely important when analysing the individuals. In fact, their fitness and attitude contributed to their cricket. When you are a good fielder you are also a good athlete. I thought this team was intimidating the opposition with its athleticism and fielding,” he added.
Prasad also hailed India U-19 coach Rahul Dravid for guiding the young guns in the most efficient manner.
“These boys are really fortunate to have Dravid as the coach. He brings such discipline and focus that you end up giving your best in the most testing situations. Working with Dravid was a great experience. We had our differences at times but overall it was a fine experience working with this great student of the game,” he said.
Venkatesh Prasad, who had earlier mentored the India Under-19 team, said he was “surprised” by the speed factor. “Bowling at 140-plus. It was amazing. One of the best I have seen. (Shivam) Mavi and (Kamlesh) Nagarkoti are headed for bigger deeds. I would like them to stick to their natural style. There should not be any tampering with their bowling style and skills.”
Prasad was also showered lavish praises on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“It is the splendid structure of junior cricket that is responsible for the team’s success. The amount of cricket played at the Under-16 and Under-19 level prepares the players well. It would be nice if the Board considered the Under-19 Tests as first-class games. I am happy junior cricket was played in coloured clothing and with white ball for the first time this season. It helped this team a lot.
“Hope the boys stay focussed and don’t get carried away by the fame and glamour that comes with success. I want them to keep the process of learning going. The youngsters should make use of the opportunity of being under Dravid’s guidance. It will be interesting [to see] how many of them graduate to the next level,” he concluded.