ICC U-19: Meet India’s World Cup winning heroes

Suyash Srivastava

New Delhi: Unmukt Chand played a captain’s knock to guide his team to a six-wicket victory over defending champions Australia. This was India’s third U-19 World Cup victory. The journey to the final wasn’t that easy and here is a list of players who made significant contributions throughout the tournament.

Unmukt Chand: India’s skipper from Delhi played a captain’s innings in the final match as he single-handedly demolished the confidence of the defending champions Australia who missed a few chances in the crucial encounter.

Prior to the final, Chand had scored just 135 runs from his five outings in the tournament with 78 against Zimbabwe being his best. Many said that the player of his quality had saved the best for the final match that proved to be true as the right-hander smacked unbeaten 111 runs and won the cup for his side.

The experts have already begun to compare his leadership skills with that of Virat Kohli, under whose captaincy India won the 2008 Under-19 World Cup defeating South Africa in the finals by 56 runs.

The stylish right-hander is expected to play for the national side in the next few years, and with his brilliant ton against the defending champions, he certainly went a step closer.

Smit Patel: The 19-year-old from Ahmedabad played a patient innings in the final match, which proved to be a decisive factor. Patel gave his skipper the freedom to play his strokes. The right-hander added an unbeaten 130 runs with Unmukt Chand and also hit the winning runs.

The wicketkeeper batsman also contributed with nine catches and one stumping in the tournament. Apart from his unbeaten knock of 62 against Australia, Patel had also scored a half-century against West Indies in the first match.

Baba Aparajith: He might not be well built like most of his teammates, but Baba Aparajith is someone who has made significant contributions to India’s journey to U-19 World Cup victory.

Right from the beginning of the series, the 18-year-old has helped his side move out of difficult situations. Batting at No. 3, he re-built a derailed innings on a number of occasions in the tournament. He scored 171 runs, picked up five wickets and took six catches.

Prashant Chopra: As Indian batsmen continued to disappoint in the crucial tournament ahead of the final, Chopra was someone who managed to play a significant role by scoring most of the runs in India’s meagre totals.

Prior to the final, Prashant, with 172 runs, was India’s highest scorer in the cup. The right-hander wasn’t in the original Indian squad and was included at the last moment after his Chandigarh-based fellow opener Mannan Vohra got injured.

In spite of being dismissed for a duck in the final against Australia, Chopra is, for sure, one of the heroes of the Under-19 team.

Harmeet Singh: The bowlers often do not get the credit when it comes to the shorter format of the game, but Harmeet Singh is a key player for India Under-19 as he defended India’s meagre scores with his left-arm spin in several matches.

Singh also played a pivotal innings against Pakistan in the 3rd quarter-final. Chasing 136 to win, India were in a comfortable position at 120 for 5 and needed 17 more, but within no time they were left struggling at 127 for 9. Singh who came in to bat at No. 8, added ten crucial runs for the last wicket along with No. 1 Sandeep Sharma to help their side snatch a cliff-hanger from arch-rivals Pakistan.

Harmeet also contained runs in an excellent spell where he gave just 20 runs in his quota of ten overs and also picked up a wicket. Harmeet hit the winning runs against Pakistan after which he was mobbed by his jubilant teammates.

Even in the final match, Harmeet bowled a decent spell where he gave away just 36 runs in his quota of 10 overs.

Sandeep Sharma: The right-arm fast bowler has done his job to a great extent by getting crucial breakthroughs for his side. He picked 12 wickets in the tournament and bowled extremely well with the new ball.

Against the Aussies in the final, Sandeep decimated the Australian top order as he picked up four wickets for 54 runs.

In the cliff-hanger against Pakistan, Sharma got India to a rollicking start as he dismissed two Pakistani batsmen Sami Aslam (0) and Imam-ul-Haq (0) in the first over of the innings. Later on, he came in to bat at No. 11 with India still needing tens runs for victory.

Sandeep, who hails from Patiala, held his nerves with Harmeet Singh as he played 22 deliveries and it was his all-round performance which was one of the key factors why India managed to nab the thriller.

Ravikant Singh: He is one of the leading bowlers who played a major role in India’s U-19 World Cup victory. In spite of playing just five matches and not six like his teammates, Ravinkant Singh picked up 12 wickets including a five against Papua New Guinea.

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