NEW DELHI: The Indian bowlers staged a terrific comeback to dismiss Australia for 216 in the big final of the Under-19 World Cup on Saturday. Australia, on the back of two strong partnerships and a fighting half-century from Jonathan Merlo, were going strong before they lost their last six wickets for 33 runs. India need 217 runs to lift the World Cup title for a record fourth time and keep their unbeaten streak alive in the tournament.
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In overcast conditions, Australia showed no hesitation in opting to bat first. The openers creamed their way to 32 in two overs with Jack Edwards and Max Bryant collecting boundaries frequently between them. The breakthrough was provided by Ishan Porel, once again getting into the thick of things and removing both openers in a span of four overs. Skipper Jason Sangha signalled his arrival with a boundary but struggled to rotate strike since. He went hard after a ball outside off and slashed it for Harvik Desai, who had dropped a chance earlier, to take a fabulous catch.
At 59/3, India were on top. With spinners Shiva Singh and Abhishek Sharma operating in tandem and runs not easy to come by, the Australian innings showed character through Merlo and Pram Uppal as both batsmen began collecting boundaries at ease. The Indian bowlers were equally guilty of bowling too short, something that Merlo and Uppal dealt extremely well by rocking back onto the backfoot and sending the ball crashing towards the point boundary. The 50-tun partnership was brought up off 68 deliveries and was beginning to look threatening.
The promising stand was broken by Anukul Roy. Uppal, having battled hard for 34, trying to flick one to the on-side offered a leading edge and a return catch to the left-armer. Another partnership blossomed for Australia with Nathan McSweeney supporting Merlo well for 49 runs, until the batsman offered India a second caught and bowled. With five down, Merlo remained the key for Australia but Prithvi Shaw rotated his bowlers so well that the boundaries dried up and Australia banked heavily on rotating strikes.
India kept dealing telling blows and that mounted the pressure on Merlo, who finally perished for 76, lofting a reverse sweep for Shiva to take the catch in the deep and make Anukul the joint highest wicket-taker in the tournament. Baxter Holt was run out thanks to a beautiful piece of work in the field by Shiva and then Desai, Nagarkoti and Mavi returned to wipe out the tail.
Source : timesofindia