Bangladesh pulled off a stunning three-wicket win over hot favourites India via Duckworth/Lewis method to clinch their maiden ICC U-19 World Cup title on Sunday. The triumph in an enthralling final in the South African city of Potchefstroom is Bangladesh’s first global title across any age group and is a shot in the arm for the cricket-mad country.
The Bangladeshi colts, playing their maiden final as opposed to the Indians appearing in their seventh title clash overall and third in a row, showed more desperation and emerged triumphant. Bangladesh captain Akbar Ali outwitted his Indian counterpart Priyam Garg in a final which swung from one side to the other.
Akbar made the right decision to field on winning the toss and the Bangladesh pace trio of Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib and Avishek Das made use of the early moisture in the wicket. Avishek got rid of Indian opener Divyaansh Saxena cheaply while the in-form Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tilak Varma could not get away the Bangladesh pacers.
Though Jaiswal showed great patience, he was not allowed to break free. Once the left-hander was dismissed for 88, the Indians suffered a spectacular collapse as they lost seven wickets for just 21 runs to be bowled out for 177 in 47.2 overs.
The Bangladeshi opening pair of Tanzid Hasan and Parvez Hossain Emon seemed to be running away with the game before the introduction of leggie Ravi Bishnoi revived the Indian hopes. From 50/0, Bangladesh slipped to 65/4, and in between Emon was forced to retire hurt with cramps.
Akbar showed great composure to stem the tide and was keen on playing out the overs instead of going for the easy option of attempting the big shots. Garg made a tactical mistake as he took off Bishnoi after a six-over spell. In hindsight it proved to be one of the turning points of the game.
Emon displayed courage to return and the southpaw’s 41-run stand with Akbar for the seventh wicket put the chase back on track. Though Jaiswal dismissed Emon for 47, Akbar (43 not out) found an able ally in Rakibul Hasan (9 not out). The duo played sensible cricket to achieve the revised target of 170 with 23 balls to spare after a brief rain interruption.
The Indians lacked discipline and conceded 19 wides in addition to bowling two no-balls in the low-scoring game.
The triumph is just reward for the efforts of the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the patience of their loyal fans. Bangladesh have suffered some heart-breaking losses at the hands of India both at the senior and junior level in the past couple of years, but on Sunday the Bangladeshi colts made up for all those disappointments. Undoubtedly the win is a huge step for Bangladesh cricket.
As for four-time champions India, Jaiswal and Bishnoi were easily the standout players and it will be a surprise if they don’t go on to play for the senior team.