India is through to the final of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup after a convincing 96-run win over Australia at the Coolidge Cricket Ground.
A phenomenal 204-run third-wicket partnership between Yash Dhull and Shaik Rasheed helped India to 290/5 in their 50 overs.
And Australia never looked comfortable in the chase, falling 96 runs short as seven wickets were taken by spin, with Vicky Ostwal the pick of the bowlers with 3/42.
India’s victory means they are into a fourth consecutive ICC U19 World Cup Final, where they will play England for a chance to win the title for the fifth time in the country’s history.
Australia will have to settle for a spot in Friday’s third-place playoff against Afghanistan.
India captain Dhull opted to bat first after winning the toss in Antigua, but the innings didn’t get off to the start he would have wanted as Angkrish Raghuvanshi fell for a 30-ball six in the eighth over, with runs hard to come by in the Powerplay.
It was William Salzmann who picked up the early scalp, but Jack Nisbet was the most impressive bowler in the early stages, with his first six overs going for just 12 runs as India was put under huge pressure.
Nisbet got the reward for his tight spell with the wicket of the other opener Narnoor Singh for 16, to leave India in a spot of bother on 37/2.
But that dismissal brought captain Dhull to the crease, and India didn’t look back, as the skipper and Rasheed patiently led the recovery and before upping the scoring rate significantly in a remarkable partnership.
The pair were still at the crease going into the final ten overs and with both approaching a century, and captain Dhull did get to that milestone before signaling his intent with a smoked six off the very next delivery.
The 19-year-old fell in an unfortunate manner, run out backing up at the non-striker’s end for a majestic run-a-ball 110.
And Rasheed fell to the next ball, caught at backward-point just six runs short of his own century.
The double-blow threatened to slow what had looked set to be an explosive finish to the innings, with Rasheed’s dismissal leaving India at 241/4 with four overs remaining.
But Rajvardhan Hangargekar (13 off 10) and Nishant Sindhu (12* off 10) ensured that the runs kept flowing, before Dinesh Bana finished the innings in style, hitting two sixes and two fours off his four deliveries. Bana’s late cameo helped India reach 290/5, with 27 runs coming off the final over.
India’s innings were one of two distinct halves, with just 86 runs coming off testing first 25 overs, and then 204 runs ransacked off the second 25.
Australia’s hopes of reaching the target of 291 to set up a final against England suffered a big early blow when in-form opener Teague Wyllie was trapped in front in just the second over of the reply.
Wyllie had scored significantly at the top of the order in all three of Australia’s previous wins at the tournament, but his dismissal didn’t immediately seem to knock the team’s confidence, with Campbell Kellaway (30) and Corey Miller (38) scoring at a reasonable pace through the following 15 overs in a partnership worth 68.
However, India’s main threat was always expected to be their quality spin attack, and so it proved, with part-timer Raghuvanshi fooling Miller with a clever change of pace, and Vicky Ostwal picking up the scalp of Kellaway six balls later.
Wickets fell at regular intervals from there on, as India’s spinners took the game away from Australia, with only Lachlan Shaw surviving for any significant length of time for a hard-fought 51.
But with Shaw at risk of running out of partners, he went on the attack after reaching his half-century, bottom-edging a big heave onto his stumps to become the ninth wicket to fall.
And India sealed their spot in Saturday’s final with a runout, as a mix-up between Tom Whitney (19 off 17) and number eleven Jack Nisbet left the former stranded.