Townsville: India lifted the ICC Under-19 World Cup for the third time in the tournament's history with a six-wicket win over hosts Australia on Sunday, with skipper Unmukt Chand yet again showing his big-match temperament with an unbeaten century.
Australia had been kept to 225 for 8 after Sandeep Sharma took four wickets, and the win was completed with Unmukt carrying his bat for 111 off 130 deliveries, his fourth century in a knock-out match this year. He was ably assisted by Baba Aparajith (33) and wicketkeeper Smit Patel (62 not out), who hit the winning runs with a boundary as India won with 14 balls remaining.
It was a captain’s innings from Unmukt, in all manner of speaking. The 19-year-0ld came into the final with scores of 31, 0, 4, 78 and 22 in the tournament and looked on from the nonstriker’s end as his opening partner Prashant Chopra was dismissed for 0 in the second over. He took his time to build his innings, hitting only one four in the first eight overs. But in the ninth Unmukt opened up with a boundary and a six off Gurinder Sandhu, and the timing of his shots only got better.
Aparajith played some pretty drives during his innings, but his dismissal in the 15th over – caught at extra cover while driving on the rise – gave Australia an opening. Hanuma Vihari came and went for 4 and Vijaz Zol could only manage 1, but dropping Chand on 38 cost Australia dearly. A second six off Sandhu was followed by a boundary that brought Chand his half-century off 66 balls.
Australia briefly pulled things as Patel took his time to get going, but once he did there was no stopping India and a match-winning alliance of 130 was forged. The pair ran well between the wickets and were quick to pounce on anything even fractionally short. A sluggish batting Powerplay left India needing 61 from the final ten overs, and they did it with ease thanks to Unmukt and Patel. Unmukt's fifth century at this level came off 126 balls with his fifth six, and he collected another before Patel swung Ashton Turner for four over midwicket in the 48th over to cue mad scenes from the Indian camp.
Earlier, after Unmukt opted to field, Sandeep's 4 for 54 had played a big role in keeping Australia to an achievable total. His early strikes helped reduce the hosts to 38 for 4, after which Australia captain William Bosisto (87 not out) forged two half-century stands with Travis Head (37) and Turner (43). Sandeep struck in the first two overs of an fine opening spell(5-2-8-2) to get the previous match’s centurion Cameron Bancroft (2) and Jimmy Peirson (0), and Australia then lost two wickets with the score on 38.
Bosisto batted well for his innings, hitting six fours in a 120-ball effort, and crucially scored 59 off his last 50 balls faced. Sandeep came in for stick at the end, conceding 46 in his final five overs, but in the end Bosisto's unbeaten innings was trumped by an even better one from his opposite number.