Pacers Raj Limbani and Naman Tiwari shared five wickets between them as India U19 restricted their Australian counterparts to 253/7 thanks to a fighting half-century by middle-order batter Harjas Singh in the final of the ICC Men's U19 Cricket World Cup here on Sunday.
Harjas struck a 64-ball 55 and near half-centuries by opener Harry Dixon (42), skipper Hugh Weibgen (48) and Oliver Peake (46 not out) helped Australia U19 reach 253/7 in 50 overs, the highest-ever total in a U19 World Cup final. Raj Limbani starred for India with 3-38 while Naman Tiwari bagged 3-63 as India applied breaks to the Australian innings at appropriate moments.
India went into the match unchanged while Australia U19 brought in Charlie Anderson for Tom Campbell in the lone change since their semifinal win over Pakistan.
Harry Dixon was off to a belligerent start, taking 15 runs off Tiwari's first over. However, Limbani struck the first blow for India, making one to swerve in and castled Sam Konstas in the third over. India soon switched to spin and managed to stem the scoring rate in the first Powerplay.
Dixon and Weibgen were watchful against the spinners at the start of the middle overs, while also calmly milking runs to keep the scoreboard ticking. The overs 11-20 saw Australia score 42 runs, with boundaries easing in towards the end of that period. A return to pace yielded immediate results in the 21st over, as Tiwari dispatched Weibgen for 48. The left-armer struck again in his next over, this time getting the better of Dixon. The slower ball outfoxed the southpaw, and he popped it towards Abhishek Murugan -- Australia down to 99/3 in the 23rd over.
Harjas Singh and Ryan Hicks then rebuilt for Australia with a patient stand. Harjas, who had scored merely 49 runs in the tournament thus far, opened his arms against the spin of Priyanshu Moliya, hitting a six and four in the 28th over. He hit a flurry of boundaries thereafter as the duo raised 66 runs for the fourth wicket.
Hicks was eventually trapped leg before by Limbani for 20, but Australia were progressing at a healthy run rate. Harjas punched a Tiwari full toss down the ground in the 37th over to bring his maiden fifty of the U19 World Cup -- reaching the milestone off 59 deliveries, hitting three boundaries and an equal number of maximums.
Saumy Pandey struck back for India by getting Harjas soon after. The batter tried to sweep Pandey towards the on-side but missed and was trapped plumb leg before.
Ollie Peake's positive intent helped Australia craft their total past 200 even as India's bowlers kept chipping away. Australia eventually added 66 off the last 10 overs. India now need to score 254 runs to claim a record sixth ICC Men's U19 World Cup title while Australia are hoping to pick their fourth crown.
A win will reaffirm India's status as a major force in junior Men’s cricket. For Australia, it will be yet another major ICC trophy to their name after the recent success in the ICC World Test Championship Final 2023 and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. On both occasions, they defeated teams from India and thus the India U19 team will be hoping to exact revenge for the previous two defeats.
Australia U19 253/7 in 50 overs (Harjas Singh 55, Hugh Weibgen 48, Oliver Peake 46 not out, Harry Dixon 42; Raj Limbani 3-38, Naman Tiwari 2-63) against India U19.
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