In a high-stakes showdown at the ICC U-19 World Cup 2024, Australia emerged triumphant, securing their fourth title by defeating India with a commanding 79-run victory. The pulsating finale showcased Australia’s cricketing prowess as they fielded four seam bowlers, strategically leveraging favorable conditions and the kookaburra balls to set a challenging target of 254 runs for India.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss, Australia presented a formidable challenge for Team India. With an impressive score of 253/7 in 50 overs, Australia not only set a substantial target but also etched their name in U19 World Cup history by scoring the most runs in a final.
Facing a mountainous task, the Indian team donned the blue jerseys with the opportunity to make history by chasing down 254 runs. However, their pursuit fell short as they could only muster 174 runs in 43.5 overs, succumbing to Australia’s relentless bowling attack.
From the Indian side, only Adarsh Singh (47), Murugan Abhishek (42), Musheer Khan (22), and Naman Tiwari (14) reached double figures. Australia’s Mahali Beardman and Rafe McMillan proved to be the chief architects of India’s downfall, claiming three wickets each. Callum Wilder dismissed two batsmen, while Charlie Anderson and Tom Straker chipped in with a wicket each.
Earlier in the match, Australia’s Harjas Singh stood out with a stellar performance, scoring 55 runs in 64 balls, including three fours and three sixes. Captain Hugh Webgen contributed 48 runs, while Oliver Peak played a crucial unbeaten innings of 46* runs on 43 balls. Opener Harry Dixon added 42 runs, and the lower order contributed with Wicketkeeper Ryan Hicks scoring 20 runs and Charlie Anderson adding 13 runs.
Team India’s bowlers showed resilience as Raj Limbani took a maximum of three wickets, and Naman Tiwari accounted for two dismissals. Soumya Pandey and Musheer Khan each contributed with a wicket, with Soumya Pandey making a historic impact by becoming India’s highest wicket-taker in the U19 World Cup, surpassing Ravi Bishnoi’s record of 17 wickets in the 2020 edition.
While India’s bowlers showcased their mettle by restricting Australia to under 260 runs, the batsmen faced a daunting challenge. Despite brilliant performances from Captain Uday Saharan, Sachin Dhas, Arshin Kulkarni, Musheer Khan, and Adarsh Singh throughout the tournament, they faltered in the title match, unable to replicate their earlier success.
Australia’s dominance over India in knockout matches on South African soil persisted, echoing historical encounters in ICC ODI finals and women’s cricket clashes. To break this pattern, India must establish a consistent coaching setup, focusing on detailed opponent analysis, talent development, and the integration of technological advancements. The reliance on coaching figures like VVS Laxman and Kanitkar, who have faced challenges in coaching roles, may necessitate reconsideration for sustained success in junior and women’s cricket.
A crucial moment in the match came when Soumya Pandey took the lone wicket against Australia, dismissing the dangerous batsman Harjas Singh for 55 runs. This wicket marked Pandey’s 18th in the World Cup, making him the highest wicket-taker for Team India, surpassing Ravi Bishnoi’s previous record. Soumya Pandey’s historic achievement adds a positive note to India’s campaign, showcasing the emergence of young talent on the international stage.
In retrospect, the ICC U-19 World Cup 2024 final will be remembered as a gripping contest, highlighting Australia’s supremacy and the challenges faced by India’s emerging cricketing talents. As both teams reflect on their performances, the cricketing world eagerly anticipates the continued growth and development of these young players on the global stage.
Sunil Yash Kalra is a women’s cricket historian and founder of Indian Sports Fans.