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How India beat the odds and won the U-19 World Cup

Source: PTI
Last updated on: February 06, 2022 09:17 IST
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The triumphant India team celebrates with the trophy after winning the Under-19 World Cup in Antigua on Saturday.

IMAGE: The triumphant Indian team celebrates with the trophy after defeating England and winning the Under-19 World Cup, in Antigua, on Saturday. Photograph: ICC Media

Moments after India's unprecedented fifth Under-19 World Cup title triumph, National Cricket Academy head VVS Laxman lauded the Board of Control for Cricket in India for running a world-class youth structure and organising innumerable, competitive age-group tournaments.

Having battled a COVID-19 outbreak in their camp, which nearly derailed their campaign, India beat England by four wickets in the final of this edition on Saturday to extend their dominance in the age-group showpiece.


"I think the BCCI has to be complemented. The number of matches and tournaments each age group level gets to play, whether Under-16, Under-19 or Under-23... unfortunately due to COVID-19 they didn't get to play any tournament and that's why I think this tournament win is very special," said Laxman, after the triumph.

Delighted with the victory, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly announced a cash award for the entire team.

"Congratulations to the under-19 team and the support staff and the selectors for winning the world cup in such a magnificent way ..The cash prize announced by us of 40 lakhs is a small token of appreciation but their efforts are beyond value .. magnificent stuff..," Ganguly tweeted.

Laxman, a teammate of former India captain Ganguly, accompanied the team to the West Indies for the tournament.

"Firstly huge congratulations to the selection committee. It was a new selection committee and quite challenging for them to identify this group. After that, the coaching staff with Hrishikesh (Kanitkar) as the head coach, Sai Raj, Munish, and all the support staff.

"The way they got this group together, they worked really hard, won the Asia Cup and the preparation for this World Cup was fantastic.

"But in the middle of this tournament, we all know what happened to the boys. To test positive (for COVID-19) but show the kind of resilience and positive attitude was exemplary," Laxman observed.

India's Raj Bawa celebrates with teammates Shaik Rasheed and Kaushal Tambe after dismissing England's George Bell during the ICC Under-19 men's World Cup final, at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, on Saturday.

IMAGE: 'Man of the Match' Raj Bawa celebrates with teammates Shaik Rasheed and Kaushal Tambe after dismissing England's George Bell during the ICC Under-19 men's World Cup final, at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, in Antigua, on Saturday. Photograph: ICC Media

He termed the title triumph only a beginning of a journey for the team's players.

"It's important but this is just a learning process and just the start of their journey. Everyone in this group understands that. This is about development as players and as a person and it's great to see how they've developed and evolved over the last couple of months."

Winning captain Yash Dhul, who was himself down with COVID-19 after the first match, said they found it difficult to get the combination correct.

"Proud moment for India, that we have managed to achieve this. It was difficult at the start to get the combination right. But as time went we became a family and the team atmosphere was good. Great moment to be playing under this lot of support staff," said Dhull, after taking a lap of honour along with his teammates.

Calling it a big learning experience, head coach Kanitkar praised Dhull for leading the side to the title.

"It's too exciting for my good, but happy with the result. I think we learned a lot from this. We were looking to bat as well. There was a little bit of moisture.

"(Dhull) led them very well. He has a very good head on his shoulders. I think it's a fabulous competition, getting this stage to perform at this young age, for all teams. It's a great opportunity to showcase talent and for the academies around the world," Kanitkar said.

Asked to field first, India bowled out England for 189 after having them reeling at 61 for 6 at one stage.

Bowling his medium pacers to deadly effect, Raj Bawa (5/31) ran through the English middle-order after the in-from left-arm seamer Ravi Kumar (4/34) laid the opposition low with two early blows.

India completed the chase with 14 balls to spare.

For close to 19 overs, Rew and James Sales (34 not out) defied India with their 93-run eight-wicket stand, ensuring the 1998 edition winners recover from a horror 61 for six and then 91 for 7.

England captain Tom Prest said his team was definitely looking for a better start than what they got.

"Choosing to bat first, we'd have liked a better start, but the way James Rew then batted to get his 95, deserved a hundred. We got to a score where we thought we were in the game with and gave it a crack," Prest said.

"We've got a strong bowling attack and taking a wicket in the first over got the mood up and got the confidence going. They (India) obviously batted really well. They had a couple of great partnerships, so credit to them."

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