As I correctly predicted in my ‘6 to watch thread’ prior to the world cup, Australia and India will reach the final and compete for the title at the 2012 edition of the under-19 world cup in Queensland. Now that is a reality and one of the previous 3 teams to win the trophy twice or more will lift it again. Will Australia win their 4th title and successfully defend their crown? Or will India join Australia by winning a 3rd title and therefore become the joint winner of the highest number of u-19 titles with the current champions?
Setting the Scene
Australia comes into this final, undefeated in the tournament, winning all 5 of their games in to the road to the final. India did have a slip up against West Indies in the group, but narrowly scraped through against Pakistan and New Zealand in the knock out encounters. Will Unmukt Chand join Virat Kohli and Mohammad Kaif as a national under-19 world cup winning captain for the men in blue? I feel he won’t and am standing by my pre tournament favourites, Australia who have looked the most convincing outfit on show, but he has done well to lead India this far and can be proud of his and his teams efforts. India have won the quadrangular series and Asia Cup this year, the world cup will be the icing on the cake.
Word on Pakistan
Just a brief word on Pakistan who was one of the other contenders for the title, but were eliminated at the quarter final stage. It’s the first time since 2007 that they have been knocked out at a men’s ICC tournament finals without reaching the final 4/semi finals including World Cup, WT20 and Champions Trophy. It is their worst position in their last 5 editions, even though they haven’t played that badly, winning the initial pool and losing by 1 wicket in the quarter final. A 7th place finishing just like their men’s hockey team in 2012 games is not a good consolation prize either. However, many of their players like Sami, Captain Babar and Imam are young enough to play in the 2014 edition in the UAE and will be backing themselves to go further in more familiar territory to them.
Last 4 U19 CWC finals have been won by the side batting first
In 6 televised matches in the tournament, barring obvious mismatches, no side has scored 250 and only 2 sides have scored above 200, on both occasions winning totals.
In 7 of the 9 televised matches in the tournament, the side that has won the toss have elected to field first.
Low Scoring Thrillers
Low scoring thrillers have been a common theme associated with this world cup. Batting has been tough and slow going. This is better than high scoring run feats where batting is straightforward, encouraging explosiveness and innovation and emphasis is on damage limitation with the ball. This is a better evenly contested intriguing battle between bat and ball where the ability to survive and deny is impressive as is the ability to score batting attackingly as well. Batsmen have their work cut and the classical batting virtues find an important place. Bowlers have assistance and how well they can extract it and make the most of it is the challenge. Every wicket, partnership, defensive block, run scored seems so significant. This is one day cricket at its best.
0/2 in the first 5 deliveries of the Pakistan-India quarter final with Sandeep Sharma finding the edge of Aslam and Haq to nick off in the slip cordon without troubling the scorers. Dream start for India.
Conway of Australia who has only played one game in the tournament so far getting a hat-trick in the pool match against Nepal with all 3 deliveries hitting the stumps to give the batsmen the death rattle.
New Zealannd scoring 18 of the final over against West Indies in the quarter final to secure their spot in the final 4.
Earlier in the year so the players who are 19 during the course of the year have maximum chance of playing in the tournament. This one was held out of season as well.
More television exposure for all teams. Perhaps cover more than one game per day. Some teams get to play 2 pool games live whereas others don’t get any depending on the group they are in. Unfair to the fans of certain countries who want to see the next generation of their cricketers in action and this is one of the few opportunities they get to do so.
If they are only covering 1 game per day in the pool games, make sure they are not one sided mismatches.
Show matches from more than just 1 ground live throughout the tournament.
Limited international cricket to be played while it’s on, it is a major ICC tournament and deserves every opportunity of becoming a hit.
No one has impressed me as much in the tournament as he has. Bosisto is a clinical finisher, always having that ability to be there at the end and see his side through. He gives the hosts plenty of assurance in the batting department. He has only been dismissed once in the tournament and that was run out with the game virtually over with Australia only requiring one scoring shot to get home with wickets in hand during the semi final after he had done the bulk of the work. The Australian captain is a reliable banker and tough cookie to dislodge at the crease, averaging 179 after 5 innings. Moreover, sharp mover in the field who sets high standards and leads by example.
Has bowled beautifully in the competition. He is a classical left arm spinner, using the art of flight and guile. He gives the ball a tweak and is unafraid to give the ball some extra air and try to deceive the batsmen in the flight. He genuinely bowls at a slower pace, looking to beat the batsmen in the air and get some turn. This is encouraging and unique in an era where darting the ball in is a norm for spinners. Harmeet has been a treat to watch. He also has a good arm ball.
As a batsman you have to be prepared to use your feet to him and try to adjust his length. He works batsmen over if they are trying to play defensively or just nudge him way. If you take him on and try to put him under pressure, he may lose the rhythm and confidence. If you are going to treat him respectfully and see him off you have to make sure you concentrate hard for each over and negotiate tightly. He is hard to get away as he does not give you much pace to work with.
Team of the Tournament
De Kock (WK)
How Final Will Be Decided?
First hour of play will be crucial. It’s important with the helpful conditions and 2 new white balls at each end not to lose wickets at the top and battle through the early patches without self destructing. Batting becomes easier to expand your range of shots and score the longer you spend in the middle. Batsmen have to be prepared to graft, grind and play the waiting game up top. Bowlers need to get the ball in the right areas and ensure they do the basics well enough and examine the batsmen consistently enough as the pitch has enough in it for them to get the breakthroughs and put the opposition under pressure. The Australian seam attack vs. the Indian top order will be the deciding factor and go a long way in determining who lifts the biggest under-age group sporting crown on the planet.