It’s always inspiring to watch the underdog come up trumps. The occasions, like the time India beat West Indies to win the 1983 World Cup final and so many others before and after that, remain etched in the memory for several reasons.
Keeping our focus on World Cups, it’s quite tough to remember as much of the Under-19 World Cups as one does with the big World Cups, for obvious reasons.
Fret not. Here we have a list of the biggest upsets in Under-19 World Cup history to help you get a dose of that underdog-propelled victory that makes your day.
Bangladesh v West Indies, 1998
Chris Gayle’s broad blade gave West Indies, who had been put in, a belter of a start as the big man, then a big boy, smashed his way through everything. The problem, however, was that he didn’t find any support from the other end. Marlon Samuels’s run out on 33 didn’t help the team’s cause either, but Gayle kept rowing and steered West Indies to 243 on the back of his unbeaten 141. Mushfiqur Rahman finished with three wickets. Bangladesh came out swinging with Hannan Sarkar and Ehsanul Haque getting them off to a good start. But the real chase began when Mehrab Hossain and Al Sahariar built a 103-run stand. Even after Mehrab was dismissed, Sahariar held his nerve. Soon enough, West Indies’ bowling gave way and Bangladesh came away with a spectacular six-wicket win.
England v New Zealand 1998
New Zealand had the stronger XI on paper, and a team to go all the way in the tournament, so when England bowled them out for 180 it came as a surprise. What was even more shocking was that England didn’t choke under pressure during the run chase. In fact, they went about it meticulously and came away with a four-wicket win. The win inspired England to greater deeds as they went on claim the title, beating New Zealand again in the final.
Nepal v Pakistan, 2002
Four wickets for Junaid Zia, four for Kamran Sajid and two for Umar Gul meant Pakistan had to chase down a meagre 152 at Lincoln Green that day. Pakistan came into the tournament with way too much experience and skill in its ranks to go down to Nepal, but that’s exactly what happened. In pursuit of the small total, Pakistan lost their way as Shakti Gauchan and Sanjam Regmi picked up three wickets each and bowled Pakistan out for 121 in 45.5 overs. Asim Munir was the top-scorer for Pakistan with 34 runs.
Bangladesh v India, 2002
Parthiv Patel, Stuart Binny, Manvinder Bisla and Paul Valthaty. These were some of the prominent members of the Indian side at the start of the new millennium. So when they lined up against Bangladesh at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, India were expected to have the upper hand. But soon enough, the rug was pulled from under India’s batting as they were dismissed for a meagre 77. Ashiqur Rahman came away with three wickets and Shafiq Al Zabir bagged a couple. Bangladesh, in response, had just as horrid a time as they were down five with just 52 runs on board. It got hairier as the next three fell after adding just 12. Ali Arman, however, ensured no further drama as he carried the side past the target in the 33rd over and remained unbeaten on 12, the Indians guilty of conceding 27 extras without which, possibly, the result could have been different.
Australia v Zimbabwe, 2004
The lowest total at the Under-19 World Cup is 22, made by Scotland against Australia. Not surprising that. But Australia’s lowest in the tournament is 73 and that, surprisingly, came against Zimbabwe, in Bogra (Bangladesh). After the openers added 37 runs, Australia went into freefall as Tinashe Panyangara bagged six and Elton Chigumbura finished with four. The match wasn’t without drama, though, as Zimbabwe lost both their openers – Brendan Taylor and James Cameron – without scoring, but a steely Sean Williams (37 not out) and Tino Mawoyo (18) ensured Zimbabwe crossed the finish line for a seven-wicket win.
Nepal v South Africa, 2004
It was a good toss for Divan van Wyk to win in Chittagong, but his decision to bat first wasn’t a good one, as South Africa were quickly reduced to 37 for 5 with Manjeet Shrestha and Paras Khadka running riot. South Africa needed some runs to defend and, fortunately for them, Keagan Africa, the No. 9 batsman, stepped it up with an unbeaten 52 from 62 balls, but that still got South Africa only to 156. Nepal’s chase started in disastrous fashion as they lost their top two with just 21 on the board. In fact, the only solid contributions were those of Shakti Gauchan and Sharad Vesawkar, who made 51 not out and 27 respectively. None of the other batsmen did anything worthy but they still got past the line when Gauchan scored the remaining runs with two balls and a wicket to spare.
Nepal v South Africa, 2006
The South Africans were all geared up to avenge the humiliation from the previous World Cup and looked well on their way towards achieving that as Malusi Siboto picked up four wickets and Jean Symes three in Nepal’s 214 for 8 in Colombo. South Africa’s reply started on a solid note with the top three putting up 95 runs, and the big names were yet to come in. It started to seem like a mere formality when Dean Elgar (66 not out) and Romano Ramoo (38) added 106 runs for the fifth wicket to carry South Africa to 205 from 48.3 overs, but with seven to get from nine balls, it all fell apart, the innings ending on 212 for 5.
England v Bangladesh, 2006
Bangladesh, the two-time Plate champions, were expected to beat England, the game being played at P Sara Oval in Colombo, which was expected to help their spinners. With the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim in their ranks, Bangladesh were the favourites. But they were in a bit of a spot after being bowled out for a lowly 155, Steven Mullaney (3 for 26) and Andrew Miller (2 for 24) the architects behind the collapse. Bangladesh hit England with every spin option they had, but the Englishmen stood their ground and came away with a memorable five-wicket victory, Moeen Ali one of the main contributors with the bat.
Afghanistan v Australia, 2014
The game in Abu Dhabi was among the most one-sided fixtures of the tournament that year: the three-time champions against the boys who had just about started getting a hang of cricket. Obviously, the odds were stacked heavily against Afghanistan, but those nerves were calmed when they batted out of their skins and made 253. Mohammad Mujtaba, Ihsanullah and Hashmatullah Shahidi were the major contributors, all scoring half-centuries. In their response, Australia had some batsmen faltering, but they seemed in control of the chase as four of their top seven came up with scores upwards of 40. If only the tail had batted with some purpose, Australia could have saved the blushes, instead they were bowled out for 217 as Sharafuddin Ashraf and Abdullah Adil picked up seven wickets between them.
Nepal v New Zealand, 2016
This was the latest in the long line of Nepal’s shock victories at the Under-19 World Cup. Although they hadn’t come up with anything electrifying since 2006, they were never out of the picture and once again they made themselves very visible. Put into bat in Fatullah, Nepal’s batsmen showed maturity and skill as they cruised to 238 for 7 from their 50 overs. Knowing New Zealand’s ability with the bat, the run chase was expected to be a smooth affair and it seemed so for a while, but three crucial run outs left them in a deep hole. New Zealand were eventually bowled out for 206 in 47.1 overs, and Raju Rijal, the skipper, was awarded the Man of the Match for his 48.