India and Australia are set to meet in the showpiece finale of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024, a repeat of their Finals in last year’s ICC World Test Championship and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Both sides, undefeated in the tournament thus far, will have an opportunity to add to their cricketing history in Benoni on Sunday.
Over the last 12 months, Australia have won three major ICC trophies, which include the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 in addition to the aforementioned titles. Tomorrow’s game will be an opportunity to add yet another silverware to their cabinet.
On the other hand, India have won the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup on five previous occasions, and have a record sixth title on the line. If they manage to win, this will be their first successful title defence.
The teams have met in the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup final twice before with India emerging victorious on both occasions (2012 and 2018).
India dominated their group and Super Six encounters with commanding victories over Bangladesh, Ireland, and the USA that helped them secure the pole position in Group A.
Musheer Khan and Uday Saharan starred with the bat in the group stage, whereas Naman Tiwari and Saumy Pandey stood out with the ball.
Continuing their golden run in the Super Six, India were the comfortable victors against New Zealand and Nepal. Saharan, Musheer, and Sachin Dhas made important contributions to the willow.
Having topped Group 1 of the Super Six, India faced off against hosts South Africa in the semifinal. The knockout contest was a stern test with significant threats from Kwena Maphaka and Tristan Luus, but Saharan and Dhas steered India through to the final.
A confident side when setting a target for their opponents (each of their first five wins was secured in this fashion), India’s victory against South Africa showed that they were also prepared to master chases when required.
For Hugh Weibgen’s Australia, different players have come to the fore at different stages of the tournament. Weibgen, Callum Vidler, Harry Dixon, Harkirat Bajwa, and Ryan Hicks stood out during the group stage, where the side showed varying levels of dominance in wins over Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka.
In the Super Six stage, Weibgen’s sensational century against rivals England set the tone for a dominant win in Kimberley. Sam Konstas contributed with a hundred in the next game against West Indies, which helped Australia to a competitive total.
However, persistent rain forced the match to be called off. On the back of this undefeated run, Australia reached the semifinals as Group 2 toppers.
In the semifinals against Pakistan, Australia’s batting faltered yet again after Tom Straker’s six-wicket haul had put them on top. Digging deep, they managed to scrape through by one wicket in the final over of the game.
Like India, Australia have secured confident wins when batting first, but have been made to sweat in their chases.
Callum Vidler has been Australia’s standout bowler with the new ball, his immaculate line and length troubling the top-order batsmen in the opposition.
On the other hand, Arshin Kulkarni has notably struggled against early seam movement. Three of his dismissals in the tournament have come with edges behind the wicketkeeper or the slip cordon.
Given Vidler’s skill with the new ball, the Australian will be a significant threat to the India opener.
With 116 and 96 in his last two games, Sachin Dhas is in premium form. His backfoot prowess also makes him a key batter against a strong Australia bowling unit, who are known for their zip and bounce.
However, the change of pace hasn’t quite sat well with Dhas this tournament, seeing him struggle with his timing against the slower balls. Straker has been clever with his pace variations and the seamer is coming into the showdown fresh from a six-wicket haul in the last game and can trouble Dhas.
Weibgen, the pillar of Australia’s middle-order, was undone by left-arm spinners in three out of six innings in the tournament, against Zimbabwe’s Ryan Simbi, England’s Theo Wylie, and Sri Lanka’s Vishwa Lahiru.
Saumy has been the best left-arm spinner in the tournament and accounted for the Australia skipper in the warm-up game ahead of the tournament. The prospect of facing him in the final will be a daunting one for Weibgen.
India: Adarsh Singh, Arshin Kulkarni, Musheer Khan, Uday Saharan (c), Priyanshu Moliya, Sachin Dhas, Aravelly Avanish (wk), Murugan Abhishek, Naman Tiwari, Raj Limbani, Saumy Pandey.
Australia: Harry Dixon, Sam Konstas, Hugh Weibgen (c), Harjas Singh, Ryan Hicks (wk), Ollie Peake, Tom Campbell, Raf MacMillan, Tom Straker, Mahli Beardman, Callum Vidler.