Sunday, February 25, 2024

‘Ferocious’: Australia’s next generation beat India in U19 Cricket World Cup final

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Australia’s terrific teenage cricketers have emulated their seniors by beating India to become champions of the world.

Hugh Weibgen’s side lifted the Under-19 World Cup with a comprehensive 79-run win over the reigning champions on Sunday.

After compiling a daunting 7-253 off their 50 overs, the Australians, with their “ferocious” young quartet of fast bowlers and the artful spin of Raf MacMillan, skittled out India’s previously unbeaten side for 174 off 43.5 overs at Willowmoore Park in Benoni, South Africa.

It meant the youngsters became the fourth Aussie U19 team to win the tournament that has so often unearthed gems of the future, and the first since 2010 when Josh Hazlewood helped Mitch Marsh’s side lift the crown in New Zealand.

This time, the triumph came off the back of more quality fast bowling with Australia’s gamble of playing all four of their hugely promising quicks paying off as they proved far too relentless for an Indian batting lineup that was asked to chase down a record score in a final to prevail.

Having won the toss and elected to bat on a humid, overcast morning, the accomplished Weibgen himself (48 off 66 balls) and the aggressive left-handed opener Harry Dixon (42 off 56) provided a fine launch pad.

Then the much-touted Harjas Singh, who’d moved to Sydney from India with his family when he was a boy, put a miserable tournament behind him in which he’d scored just 49 runs in six innings by hammering a half-century decorated with three sixes.

When India earned valuable wickets and threatened to bowl out the Aussies, the 17-year-old Ollie Peake, son of the former Victoria player Clinton Peake who was himself a teenage, triple-century-scoring prodigy, produced a gem of a finisher’s knock, smacking an unbeaten 46 off 43 balls.

Arshin Atul Kulkarni (left) nicks the ball and is caught out behind as Callum Vidler celebrates. Photograph: Christiaan Kotze/AP

India never looked like challenging the score once Queensland’s red-hot paceman Callum Vidler – whose motto is: “if anyone ever tells me to slow down, I am not listening to them” – got Arshin Kulkarni caught behind in the third over.

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But Mahli Beardman (3-15 off seven overs) was the real pick of the quicks, making the key double breakthrough of the star batter Musheer Khan and the captain Uday Saharan in his silky swift spells while Vidler took 2-35 off his 10 and swing bowler Charlie Anderson 1-42 off nine.

Tom Straker, the quick nicknamed ‘Monster Truck’ who’d taken a record-breaking six-wicket haul in the semi against Pakistan, then got in on the final act, as the wicketkeeper Ryan Hicks snaffled his fourth catch to end the innings and cue huge celebrations.

The excellent all-rounder MacMillan snaffled the wicket of the dangerous Sachin Das with the first ball of spin in the innings, caught behind, and added two more key scalps in his invaluable 3-43 off 10.

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