Group B: India v Australia
Date: January 14, 2018
Venue: Bay Oval, Tauranga
It’s the clash of the heavyweights. The two teams that have seen the most success at the Under-19 level. India U-19 and Australia U-19 have won the U-19 World Cup thrice each – the most by any country. They’re among the favourites for this edition as well, as they often are for most limited-overs world competitions at any level.
Both sides warmed up with victories at the practice matches and head into the competition full of confidence. It makes Sunday’s clash at Bay Oval easily the biggest in this group, and perhaps even in the entire group stage.
India and Australia have taken contrasting approaches to the event. India, runners-up in 2016, arrived three weeks early and have trained meticulously. They even went on a full tour to England a few months earlier, to try and get used to foreign conditions. Australia, who are back in the competition after skipping the previous one due to security concerns in Bangladesh, had only home series in April last year against Sri Lanka. Australia did have Pakistan U-19 touring them last month, but the current crop of players were rested ahead of the bigger competition.
They aren’t short of experience though, as quite a few of them including Jason Sangha, their skipper, have first-class experience. The Indian side too boasts of experience and balance, although the balance will be affected slightly with Riyan Parag, the batsman and offspinner, ruled out with a finger injury he suffered in a practice match in Napier.
Overall, the two sides are expected to qualify from the group, and Sunday’s duel could repeat at a later stage in the tournament
PLAYER TO LOOK OUT FOR
Prithvi Shaw: It’s hard to look beyond the Indian skipper, for all eyes are on the 18-year-old from Mumbai. He’s diminutive in size, but has already made head turns with the way he has started his firs-class career, where he has five tons from nine games. He has the additional responsibility of leading the side, and this tournament could well be a massive stepping stone for bigger things.
Jason Sangha: The Australian captain too has gradually made a name for himself and recently became the youngest cricketer since Sachin Tendulkar to score a first-class hundred against England at 18 years and 71 days. He even received a Big Bash League contract from Sydney Thunder for the sixth edition, and a good show over the next three weeks could help him take the next step.
India: Prithvi Shaw (capt), Shubman Gill, Manjot Kalra, Himanshu Rana, Abhishek Sharma, Riyan Parag, Harvik Desai (wk), Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel, Anukul Sudhakar Roy, Shiva Singh, Aryan Juyal (wk), Arshdeep Singh, Pankaj Yadav.
Australia: Jason Sangha (capt), Will Sutherland, Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter J Holt, Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Jason Ralston, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh.
This is the second game of Group B, which also features Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea. Zimbabwe beat Papua New Guinea by 10 wickets in the first Group B clash on Saturday.
Tauranga saw bright sunshine through the last week but ever since India arrived on Friday, things have changed. The Bay Oval has seen the odd shower but it’s unlikely to threaten entire matches.
“We’ve got most of our bases covered. You can’t get into this tournament focusing only on one team, so we’ve sort of tried to focus on the whole tournament as a whole. Just tried to get a good balance to the team. I think that’s more important – to try and focus the right balance at this level. One heartening perspective for us is we’ve got people who can bat right up to No. 8 or No. 9, even though they’re fast bowlers they’ve been pretty handy with the bat. They’ve worked on developing that over the last 14 months – seeing if some of our batsmen can fill the role as bowlers.” – Rahul Dravid, India coach.
“First and foremost, we want to win our group games – that’s one of the main things – but we want to make sure these guys are learning too. Ultimately winning is what we want to do, but we’ve got to make sure we keep improving and learning about the game and all that goes with it, playing against good players, playing in tournament-play and being away from home.” – Ryan Harris, Australia coach.