Bowlers have been winning matches for India throughout the tournament, but when it mattered the most — in the final of the ICC U-19 World Cup — the batsmen stood up and bagged India’s third World Cup title at this level. India beat Australia by six wickets at Townsville yesterday.
Coach Bharat Arun (former India player) was naturally delighted with the way the batsmen bounced back from a difficult situation. “I knew we were only one game away from putting up a collective batting effort and the boys saved it for the end,” said an elated Arun.
Cup of joy: India U-19 players lift the World Cup at Townsville yesterday . Pic: ICC/Getty Images
Even after losing opener Prashant Chopra for nought, Baba Aparajith (33) and captain Unmukt Chand (111 not out) resurrected the innings, but three quick wickets thereafter reduced India to 97 for four. Yet, they held their nerves.
Vice-captain Akshdeep Nath said he was almost sure of India pulling it off from there.
“I was padded up, but I knew Smit and Unmukt were going to have a good partnership. We had chased bigger scores in the past and with Unmukt there, we always had the belief,” said an ecstatic Nath.
No one moved...
But left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh later revealed that there were still some anxious moments. “When Unmukt and Smit were in the middle, we became superstitious. We sat in same seats and no one was allowed to move. Only when there were 10 runs to get, we got ready for the celebrations,” Harmeet told MiD DAY.
Chopra felt it was time to celebrate after some tough days. “I feel like crying in joy, it (the World Cup win) has yet to sink in… it is such an amazing feeling. It’s now time to enjoy,” Chopra said.
Middle order batsman Vijay Zol, who hails from a small town of Jalna in Maharashtra, was also over the moon. “I can’t wait to go back to my home town and enjoy with the local people.
“We want to see all of them who have supported us all through at home,” said Zol.
Meanwhile, medium-pacer Ravikant Singh entered the stands to thank the Indian fans for their support after the win. “These supporters are simply brilliant. They have been yelling my name all the time and that has been a great boost,” said Singh.
India’s fielding coach R Sridhar was also mighty pleased to see the boys through. “Players come from different backgrounds and to see them go through this joyous occasion is so pleasing for me,” said Sridhar.