An unanticipated consequence of Australia’s decision not to send a team to the 2016 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh is that, without placing at that tournament, they were at the mercy of fate when it came to who they would share a group with.
From a neutral’s point of view, it could hardly have turned out better, with India v Australia set to be one of the clashes of the entire group stages. They are the two most successful teams in U19 CWC history, having each won the tournament three times apiece, and both have brought sides stacked full of top-class players, many of whom have already had success against high-class opposition. We may well look back on this fixture, and the names of those who took part, and be amazed at how many have gone on to have significant careers. Don’t miss it.
For both teams, it’s a case of which one decides to show up. Both have veered between excellent and poor in the last 12 months, with little middle ground. India stormed through two five-match series against England, losing just once and winning eight, with one tie. But the Under 19 Asia Cup was a huge disappointment, as the lost to Nepal and Bangladesh and crashed out at the group stages. Australia similarly had a 4-1 series victory set against a 2-0 reverse against Pakistan.
Both teams had notable absentees when they struggled – the likes of Jason Sangha for Australia, and Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill for India – but they will still both be desperate to put those memories behind them with a strong opening performance.
Players to watch
Lloyd Pope (Aus)
You don’t often associate legspinners with consistency, with purveyors of the mysterious art normally capable of taking bags of wickets one day and going the distance the next. But in Australia U19s’ series against Sri Lanka U19s, Lloyd Pope bucked the trend, picking up three wickets in each of his four appearances during the series. India traditionally play spin well, but if they underestimate the wild-haired wristspinner, it could be their undoing.
Prihtvi Shaw (Ind)
The player some are hailing as Sachin Tendulkar’s heir loves a debut; he marked both his first Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy – India’s zonal first class competition – appearances with hundreds, although with five hundreds from nine first-class games, it’s almost more notable from him to fail than for him to ton up. With this game marking his Under 19 World Cup debut, the odds must be short on him making yet another three-figure score.
World Cup history
Australia won the first-ever ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 1988, and have since added the 2002 and 2010 titles to their collection. Featuring among the teams were future international cricketers Stuart Law, George Bailey, Shaun Marsh, and Josh Hazlewood. Australia chose not to compete at the 2016 edition of the tournament due to the threat of terrorism.
India won their first title in 2000, with Yuvraj Singh claiming the player of the tournament award, a feat he would emulate for the senior side in 2011 as India won the World Cup proper. The 2004 player of the tournament also came from India, though the Shikhar Dhawan-inspired side lost to Pakistan in the final. The 2008 side, captained by one Virat Kohli, also claimed the title, and India added a third triumph in 2012. In 2016 they came desperately close to securing a record-breaking fourth trophy, but were beaten by West Indies in a last-over thriller.
Head to head
Australia and India have clashed 33 times at this level, with the ledger currently reading 19-14 in favour of the latter. In World Cups however, the teams are tied at two wins apiece. Their most recent World Cup clash came in 2012, when, thanks to an Unmukt Chand century, India triumphed in the final.
There is a chance of showers throughout the day, although rain is by no means a certainty. Frustratingly, since play is set to start at 2pm, the rain is most likely to stay away during the morning.
Australia: Jason Sangha (C), Will Sutherland, Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter Holt, Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Jason Ralston, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh
India: Prithvi Shaw (C), Shubman Gill, Aryan Juyal, Abhishek Sharma, Arshdeep Singh, Harvik Desai, Manjot Kalra, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Pankaj Yadav, Riyan Parag, Ishan Porel, Himanshu Rana, Anukul Roy, Shivam Mavi, Shiva Singh