UNDER-19 WORLD CUP 2012
Even as the schedule for the ICC U19 World Cup was announced, India got the better of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the warm-up matches to notch up easy victories. The Indians were handed an easy draw with the West Indies, Zimbabwe, and Papua New Guinea in the Group stage. They began their campaign with a loss against the West Indies as they were restricted to a low total of 166/8 on a slow track. As the chase began, even as West Indies suffered early hiccups losing early wickets they reached the required target with 17 balls to spare. It was India’s poor performance with the bat that led to a heart-breaking defeat.
The Indian Team bounced back from their defeat in the hands of the West Indies by a thumping win against Zimbabwe by 63 runs. As the captain, Unmukt Chand played an anchor role to post a competitive target of 262 runs. The bowling attack impressed with an excellent performance with Kamal Passi leading the bowling chart with figures of 6/23 that won him the Man-of-the-match award. In the end, Zimbabwe managed to score only 198 as they lost all their wickets by 44.1 overs.
The young Indian colts thumped minnows Papua New Guinea by 107 runs in their third group match to advance to the quarter finals of Under-19 World Cup. India’s batting woes in the tournament continued as they just posted a meager victory target of 204 runs. Thanks to contributions from Vijay Zol and Prashant Chopra, India was able to post a respectable total. The Indian bowling attack led by Ravikant Singh produced some fine seam bowling that accounted for bowling figures of 5/21 to bundle out their opponents for a total of 97 runs in a mere 32 overs.
The most expected quarter final match between India and Pakistan was a thrilling one-wicket victory which went India’s way. As Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat, the batting order stuttered against an impressive bowling attack and was bowled out for just 136 runs. Chasing a modest total of 136, India suffered a batting collapse yet again and was at a stage on the verge of a defeat. Thanks to precious contributions from Aparajith and Zol who both joined together to build a partnership of 66 runs, India wobbled to successfully chase the target. India was set to meet against New Zealand in U-19 World Cup Semis.
After put into bat, India scored briskly during the early stages with contributions from Chopra, Aparajith, and skipper Chand. The middle order failed to build on the runs after a good platform was built by the top order. After the allotted 50 overs had come to an end, India produced a total of 209/9. The Indian quick bowlers impressed yet again with their consistent bowling performance and were exceptionally good during the Powerplay overs. The spinners applied the brakes on the scoring rate and the Kiwis could only manage only 200/9 in their 50 overs. Baba Aparajith was awarded the second successive man-of-the-match award for his all-round show. This was to be India’s fourth appearance in a final of the tournament after having won in both 2000 and 2008 editions.
Unmukt Chand, the captain led India into the final of the ICC U-19 World Cup 2012 hoping that they lift the Cup for a record third time. The Aussies recovered from a shaky start of 38-4 to post a competitive target of 226. The bowlers made use of the overcast conditions and grabbed early wickets to slow down the scoring. Australian skipper William Bosisto steadied the ship and shared healthy partnerships for the fifth and sixth wicket to accelerate the scoring rate during the death overs. The Indian batsmen stumbled to 98 for the loss of 4 wickets from 25 overs despite gritty scoring from Unmukt Chand and Baba Aparajith. The skipper led from the front with a magnificent unbeaten hundred and an shared an unbroken partnership of 130 runs with the wicket-keeper batsmen Smit Patel. The rate of scoring accelerated towards the end to reach the target with ease.
Despite poor batting performances in the group stages, the Indian batsmen proved their critics wrong and had won the ICC U-19 World Cup for the third time by defeating Australia in their own backyard.