The two dominant nations in Under-19 cricket meet on Wednesday in the second semi-final of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022.
Wednesday 2 February, 09:00 local time, Coolidge Cricket Ground
Only three teams in the history of this tournament have won the title more than once, with Australia the second best on that list with three wins, and India out in front with four.
And it is India who have been the dominant force in men’s youth cricket over the last decade. The Indian squad has reached the final of four of the previous five editions of this tournament, winning it twice, most recently in 2018.
India are many pundits’ favourites to win the title again in 2022, with young opening batter Angkrish Raghuvanshi and impressive spinner Vicky Ostwal among the stars of the tournament so far.
But India’s campaign hasn’t been without incident, with a Covid outbreak disrupting their progress through the group stage. And they will need to be at their fit-and-fighting best at the Coolidge Cricket Ground on Wednesday if they are to progress beyond a balanced and talented Australian outfit.
Teague Wyllie has been the shining light with the bat for Australia, scoring a ton and two half-centuries in his four innings so far, only being dismissed twice.
And with the ball Australia have shown a range of threats, with wicket-taking capability first up with the new ball and a variety of spin options at their disposal on turning tracks.
ROUTE TO THE SEMIS
- Group B – Beat South Africa by 45 runs
- Group B – Beat Ireland by 174 runs
- Group B – Beat Uganda by 326 runs
- Quarter-final – Beat Bangladesh by 5 wickets
India’s tournament has gone from strength to strength after a slightly rusty start to their campaign against South Africa. Yash Dhull’s 82 helped the side to 232 in that opening match, and the bowlers delivered to defend the relatively modest total, with left-arm spinner Vicky Ostwal taking a brilliant 5/28 and all-rounder Raj Bawa returning 4/47.
The rest of the group stage saw the batters excel. All of the top order contributed to a tally of 307/5 that Ireland got nowhere near chasing, before Angkrish Raghuvanshi and Raj Bawa’s big centuries contributed to a mammoth 405/5 against Uganda, who were all out for just 79 in reply.
The quarter-final win over Bangladesh was relatively comfortable after the bowlers had run through the Tigers’ top order.
India’s opening batter Raghuvanshi has been the foundation of their run to the semi-finals, contributing well in his last three knocks, with 44 against Bangladesh in the last eight and scores of 79 and 144 against Ireland and Uganda respectively in the group stage.
Raghuvanshi looks calm and composed at the crease, and would be one of the stories of the tournament so far even were it not for his age. But to do what he has achieved as a 16-year-old makes it extra special.
If India build a platform then Raj Bawa has shown he has the game to accelerate the scoring rapidly. His unbeaten 162 against Uganda came off just 108 balls and helped India to the biggest team score of the World Cup so far, an extraordinary 405/5.
He can bowl too, with his 4/47 playing a big part in the win over South Africa in the group stage. There’s plenty of talent in this Indian side, but Bawa is in form and one of the biggest current threats to Australia.
ROUTE TO THE SEMIS
- Group D – Beat West Indies by 6 wickets
- Group D – Lost to Sri Lanka by 4 wickets
- Group D – Beat Scotland by 7 wickets
- Quarter-final – Beat Pakistan by 119 runs
Australia were made to sweat over their qualification for the Super League despite impressive wins over West Indies and Scotland, with their dramatic loss to Sri Lanka leaving them relying on other results to progress.
Not coincidentally, that defeat against Sri Lanka was the only game in which opening batter Teague Wyllie did not contribute a half-century, with the talented 17-year-old currently averaging 132 for the tournament.
Wyllie was back on song for the quarter-final win against Pakistan, top-scoring in his side’s 276/7 before a collectively strong bowling performance defended that total with ease.
Australia’s 17-year-old opener started the tournament with a bang and has barely looked back. His unbeaten 86 made the win over West Indies in the first match of the tournament relatively straightforward, and he has followed that knock with a classy 101* against Scotland and a fine 71 in the quarter-finals against Pakistan.
It is Wyllie who sets the tone for this Australian batting line-up, and India will know that he’s a huge threat if he gets in.
Australia’s right-arm opening bowler has returned tidy figures in all three of his matches at the tournament so far, picking up seven wickets and going at well under four an over.
Whitney’s early inroads have helped his side gain a foothold with the ball, and he’ll need to do the same against India’s quality top order.
The second semi-final of the tournament will be held at Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, the same ground where India beat Bangladesh in the previous round.
The 5,000-capacity stadium became a host venue for full international cricket in 2017 when West Indies Women hosted Sri Lanka, and the West Indies Men’s team played at the ground for the first in 2021 in a T20I series, also against Sri Lanka.
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