Bawa blows England away as India win fifth U-19 Cricket W/Cup title; Skerritt lauds tourney organisation

India helped themselves to an unprecedented fifth ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup title today, defeating England by four wickets at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

India allrounder Raj Bawa stole the show with a decisive all-round performance, claiming 5/31 with the ball in England’s 189 off 44.5 overs and then contributing a solid 35 with the bat while sharing in a 67-run fifth wicket partnership with Nishant Sindhu (50*).

Photo: India pacer Raj Bawa (centre) leads his teammates off the field, after taking five wickets in the Under-19 Cricket World Cup final against England on 5 February 2022.
(Copyright ICC/ Getty Images)

Sindhu’s vital, unbeaten knock contained five fours and one six as his side won with 14 balls to spare, to match their trophy-winning successes of 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018. 

Beaten semifinalists Australia’s three wins in 1988, 2002 and 2019 make them the second most successful team in this age group. The West Indies’ only win in the tournament came under Shimron Hetmyer in 2016. England too have a solitary title, which came in 1998, but they rarely looked like repeating that triumph today.

They were 18 for 2 in the fourth over when number 4 batsman, James Rew, walked out to the middle. And 37 for 3 just after the end of the powerplay when Bawa had opener George Thomas caught by skipper Yash Dhull at slip to earn his first scalp.

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English wickets continued to fall, leaving them at one stage on 91 for 7.  But Rew (95 off 116, 12 x 4) found a stubborn partner in James Sales (34* off 65, 2 x 4)

By the time they were separated, Rew pulling Ravi Kumar (4/34) to deep midwicket where a diving Kaulshal Tambe caught him on the rebound, England were 184 for 8.

Photo: India batsman Nishant Sindhu celebrates after their U-19 Cricket World Cup final triumph over India at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in Antigua on 5 February 2022.
(Copyright ICC/ Getty Images)

Opener Angkrish Raghuvanshi was caught behind off the bowling of Joshua Boyden off the second ball of India’s innings. But England could not get wickets with the desired regularity, Shaik Rasheed and Sindhu both chipping in half-centuries to keep India on target.

And when India found themselves needing just seven more in the 47th over, wicketkeeper Dinesh Bana ended the game in style,  smacking Sales for two sixes to secure the result.

“They obviously batted really well [and] had a couple of great partnerships so credit to them,” said England captain Tom Prest. “It’s been amazing. We all really enjoyed it, not only the cricket but the media exposure as well.

“[…] We’re very proud of our achievements. It’s been incredible and we had quite a few of our parents who have come out and flown over to support. But friends and family back home and different schools and everyone has just got behind us and it’s been amazing. 

Photo: India captain Yash Dhull (right) and England captain Tom Prest pose next to the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup trophy before the start of the final at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on 5 February 2022.
(via CWI Media)

“To test ourselves against the best players of our age, I think we’ve done ourselves proud and we put in some great performances.”

India head coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar credited skipper Dhull for joining a list of successful India U-19 captains that includes Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli, Unmukt Chand and Prithvi Shaw.

“I think we learned a lot from this,” said Kanitkar. “[Dhull] led them very well. He has a very good head on his shoulders. 

“I think it’s a fabulous competition, getting this stage to perform at this young age, for all teams. It’s a great opportunity to showcase talent and for the academies around the world.”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt commended tournament director Fawwaz Baksh, the four host nations—St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago—as well as the ‘16 teams, match officials, event staff, and broadcast crews’ for their roles in the successful staging of the event.

Photo: England bowler Rehan Ahmed (centre) celebrates the capture of a wicket during 2022 U-19 Cricket World Cup action against Afghanistan.
(Copyright ICC/ Getty Images)

“We knew it would be extra tough hosting such a large sporting event during the pandemic, especially moving so many people around different countries with different protocols,” Skerritt told CWI Media. “Then we had to factor in the periodic [Covid-19] testing of everyone associated with the tournament and, of course, we had some positive cases, which we dealt with appropriately. 

“It has proven a rigorous examination of our readiness, the systems we put in place, and of our ability to adapt and respond quickly to evolving situations.

“[…] Everyone understood what was at stake. This has been a collective exercise in resilience and a determination to find solutions and to show our best in the face of adversity.”

(Match summary)

England: 189 all out (James Rew 95, James Sales 34*; Raj Bawa 5/31, Ravi Kumar 4/34)

India: 196/6 (Shaik Rasheed 50, Nishant Sindhu 50*, Raj Bawa 35; Joshua Boyden 2/24, Thomas Aspinwall 2/42)

Result: India win by four wickets

Photo: South Africa batsman Dewald Brevis attacks the ball during a ICC Men’s U-19 Cricket World Cup contest against Uganda at the Queen’s Park Oval on 18 January 2022.
Brevis top-scored with 108 runs.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/ Wired868)

Man-of-the-Finals: Raj Bawa (India)

Player-of-the-Tournament: Dewald Brevis (South Africa)

Most runs: (506) Dewald Brevis (South Africa)

Most wickets: (17) Dunith Wellalage (Sri Lanka)

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