ICC U-19 World Cup Final: Australia lock horns with India

A classic final of the ICC U-19 World Cup is on the cards when reigning World Champions Australia take on two-time winners India at the Tony Ireland Stadium here Sunday.

Australia won the event in 1988, 2002 and 2010, and are not only bidding to win their fourth title but also to become only the second side after Pakistan to win back-to-back titles. Pakistan won in 2004 and 2006. However, Unmukt Chand will be aiming to become the third India captain to put a hand on the trophy after Mohammad Kaif and Virat Kohli lifted the cup in 2000 and 2008, respectively.

Australia have been in good form in this tournament and are the only unbeaten side. In the first round, they defeated England, Nepal and Ireland, before overcoming Bangladesh in the quarterfinals and South Africa in the semi-finals.

In contrast, India made a sluggish start losing to the West Indies. They beat Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea to enter the last eight. In the quarterfinals, India beat arch-rivals Pakistan by one wicket and then defeated New Zealand by nine runs in the semis.

The two sides have previously met three times in the U-19 World Cup, with Australia winning twice and India once.

The last time they met was in April at the same venue in the quadrangular series final when India chased down a 195-run target to beat Australia by five wickets.

Australian captain Will Bosisto, who has scored 189 runs in the tournament, said: “All the boys are rapt and ready to go. Obviously, it is pretty exciting for us to be in the final. India has strong top-order batting, and the five bowlers it has are really consistent. It will be a tough challenge for us.

“India has been much like us in a way as it has managed to get over the line without perhaps playing its best cricket. So, it will be a great challenge for us on Sunday," added Bosisto.

Chand said his side was used to the conditions in Townsville and hoped for a strong performance.

“I am very optimistic. We have played Australia in Australia and that too at the same venue. We are used to the conditions, and should do well,” said Chand, who has just 135 runs in the event.

“The team has peaked at the right time. We did not start well in the competition, but the teamwork can be seen now. It is not that one or two players are carrying the side on their shoulders. Everybody is contributing, and that is why we are in the final," added Chand.

Surprisingly, no batsman from either side figures in the list of top 16 run-getters. Cameron Bancroft with 194 runs is in 17th position, while India’s Prashant Chopra with 172 runs is 23rd.

With the ball, India’s Ravikant Singh has bagged 11 wickets and Kamal Passi has claimed 10 wickets, while Ashton Turner with 10 wickets and Gurinder Sandhu with nine wickets are Australia’s leading wicket-takers.

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