Sports U-19 World Cup: Another brick in the wall

U-19 World Cup: Another brick in the wall

Coolidge (Antigua), Feb 1

Heavyweights India and Australia will face off in the blockbuster Super League semifinals of the Under-19 World Cup here tomorrow, both teams having beaten their opponents on the field and Covid off it on the way to the last-four stage.

India’s preparations for the showpiece were heavily impacted by the virus, with hardly any national camps or tournaments in the last two years.

The four-time champions started on the right note, overcoming South Africa by 45 runs, but soon ran into a situation where they were struggling to field a playing XI after multiple players tested positive hours before their match against Ireland.

Five members of the squad were unavailable for their match against Ireland on January 19 after the outbreak. Captain Yash Dhull, his deputy Shaik Rasheed, Aaradhya Yadav, Manav Parakh and Siddharth Yadav were part of that group and missed both the Ireland and Uganda fixtures, forcing the BCCI to fly in reinforcements.

But a spirited India comprehensively defeated both before prevailing over Bangladesh by five wickets in a tricky chase in the quarterfinals on a surface that was not conducive for playing strokes. India is now back to full strength and in another good news, Nishant Sindhu has recovered from Covid and will be available for selection for the all-important semifinal.

But if the match against Bangladesh was any indication, India would like to improve their finishing with the bat. However, before that, despite missing many first XI players, India put up huge totals against Ireland (307/5) and Uganda (405/5) and registered a 326-run win, their biggest-ever in terms of runs, against the African team.

Up against a formidable Australian side, India will take confidence from the fact that they made the semifinals with wins on the trot despite the challenges posed by the virus. This is the fourth time in a row that India will be appearing at the last-four stage.

As far as Australia are concerned, the two-time champions will be on a high after their convincing win over Pakistan in the quarters.

They have a superstar in the making in opener Teague Wyllie. The 17-year-old has been outstanding so far, showingcasing his impressive array of shots. After his unconquered scores of 86 and 101 in the group stage, Wyllie’s 71 was crucial in the 119-run defeat of Pakistan. — TNS, Agencies

3 India have won their last three Under-19 World Cup semifinals — in 2016, 2018 and 2020

14.11 India’s bowling average is the best so far in this edition. India and Australia have taken 35 and 31 wickets, respectively, in four matches

992 Runs scored by India in the four matches they have played so far. In comparison, Australia have scored 811 runs in four matches

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