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27 January 201619:26 By Sidhanta Patnaik, Mirpur

India U19 looks to carry momentum into opening game

Familiar conditions should help side's spinners, Ireland aims to impress against three-time champions

India U19 looks to carry momentum into opening game - Cricket News
Even before the teams had settled down in Bangladesh for the 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup, India U-19 spiked up the interest in the tournament by making 485 for 6 in its first warm-up game against Canada.

India is not the first team to record such a monumental score. Australia U-19 had made 480 for 6 against Kenya U-19 in the 2002 World Cup in New Zealand, which it eventually went on to win. But, it is the timing of these two scores that puts things in perspective.

When Shaun Marsh, Craig Simmons and George Bailey guided Australia to what still remains the highest team total in the history of the tournament, it was viewed as a one-off occurrence. However, India’s dominating batting show against Canada could well be an insight into the future built on the back of a generation that has taken its first step in the Twenty20 era.

To maintain a rate of almost ten runs an over for 50 overs needs a team to have an adventurous mindset and an intent to attack right from the start. And there is no shortage of those virtues in the India camp.

With Rahul Dravid as coach, the youngsters have one of the finest tacticians of the game to bank upon. Ishan Kishan, the captain, has already spent time with Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Jharkhand dressing room learning strategies. Sarfaraz Khan counts Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle – his Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates in the Indian Premier League – as his friends. Ricky Bhui has spent a season with Sunrisers Hyderabad. Rishabh Pant has already represented Delhi in the final of a senior domestic tournament, and Armaan Jaffer carries the genes of a family that values the art of batting long.

After defeating Canada by 372 runs, India registered a five-wicket win against Pakistan in its second warm-up game. It would be eager to carry the momentum forward when it meets Ireland in its inaugural match in tournament proper at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Thursday (January 28).



That India is facing Ireland is because Australia dropped out of the tournament over security concerns. The withdrawal of Australia – who, along with India, is the only team to have won the World Cup thrice – means that Kishan’s boys will now play against only one Test nation – New Zealand – in the first round.

There are two ways to look at this advantage. While three first round matches give India a chance to experiment with its playing XI even as the aim would be to top the group, playing against two teams who India is expected to beat could leave the unit undercooked for a do-or-die quarterfinal game. It is an issue that was exposed in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final against England.

Though Dravid has made it clear that winning the World Cup is not the only agenda of age-group cricket, as a competitor he would not like his team to come short in must-win games. He would have already thought through this, and would be hoping that the team’s practice games against Board President’s XI in Mumbai, the boot camp in Ramnagaram, on the outskirts of Bangalore, and the warm-up wins would have liberated the boys beyond the fear of failure.

What is an obvious advantage for India though is that the pitches in Bangladesh have historically been spin-friendly. The home side pretty much set the template with its 43-run win over South Africa, the defending champion, in the tournament’s opening game in Chittagong on Wednesday. In Mahipal Lomror, Mayank Dagar and Zeeshan Ansari, India has three quality spinners who have already displayed their abilities to trouble the opposition.

From Ireland’s perspective, that it is in Bangladesh is itself a bonus. For ten days from Christmas, the boys were unclear of what was developing in a different time zone. Soon they received an email from Cricket Ireland, checking on their availability. The players had to put their school and university schedules on hold and apply for a Bangladesh visa. Having gone through an emotional rollercoaster ride even before arriving in the country, Ireland's players would know that a good show against India in a televised contest could give their CVs a major push.

Of particular interest would be the three set of brothers in the team: Jack Tector and Harry Tector, Fiachra Tucker and Lorcan Tucker and twins Gary McClintock and William McClintock.

While this would be Ireland's eighth World Cup appearance, it need not look far beyond the 2004 edition held in Bangladesh for motivation. William Porterfield, Gary Wilson, Kevin O’Brien, Boyd Rankin and Eoin Morgan were all a part of that team. Barring Morgan, who now leads England in limited-overs, the rest have played a significant role in making Ireland the top Associate nation.

That it has secured some famous wins against Pakistan, England, West Indies and Zimbabwe has largely been because of its collective self-awareness. For the juniors, the chance to follow in the footsteps of their heroes is a big enough inspiration.

Teams (from):
India: Ishan Kishan (capt, wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Khaleel Ahmed, Zeeshan Ansari, Rahul Batham, Ricky Bhui, Mayank Dagar, Armaan Jaffer, Sarfaraz Khan, Amandeep Khare, Avesh Khan, Mahipal Lomror, Shubham Mavi, Anmolpreet Singh, Washington Sundar.

Ireland: Jack Tector (capt), Rory Anders, Andrew Austin, Varun Chopra, Adam Dennison, Stephen Doheny, Aaron Gillespie, Josh Little, Gary McClintock, William McClintock, Tom Stanton, Harry Tector, Fiachra Tucker, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White.