Path to the Final: India’s dream run towards U19 World Cup decider

Relive India’s successful run to their fifth successive final appearance in the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024.

By Divy Tripathi

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Showing remarkable consistency at the tournament, India have stood out in yet another U19 World Cup campaign. Now, Uday Saharan’s side are one victory away from emulating the U19 World Cup winning teams of Mohammed Kaif, Virat Kohli, Unmukt Chand, Prithvi Shaw, and Yash Dhull.

Like any successful cricketing side, the foundations of India’s success lie in their solid performance across the three departments. Top and middle-order have contributed heavily with the willow, with Saharan, Musheer Khan, and Sachin Dhas being the standout performers.

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In the field, India have been sharp and consistent. Abhishek Murugan has stood out with some scintillating catches but the overall ground fielding has excelled throughout the 50-over period.

In the bowling department, India’s pacers and spinners have been among wickets alike. Raj Limbani and Naman Tiwari have given them perfect starts, which have been capitalised by Saumy Pandey and other tweakers. Even the likes of Musheer have contributed with important breakthroughs throughout the tournament.

Let’s take a look at India’s journey through to Sunday's final against Australia.

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Group A, Match 1, v Bangladesh in Bloemfontein

Result: India won by 84 runs

Maruf Mridha’s left-arm angle troubled India after Bangladesh elected to take the field. Adarsh Singh (76) and Saharan (64) lifted India from the mat, and late cameos from Dhas and Aravelly Avanish helped India to 251/7.

Bangladesh openers got off to a positive start, but the side faltered against the turn of Saumy Pandey (4/24). Despite an enterprising stand between Ariful Islam and Mohammad Shihab James, India took the game by 84 runs.

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Adarsh Singh's composed fifty helped India to a match-winning total

Group A, Match 2, v Ireland in Bloemfontein

Result: India won by 201 runs

Musheer Khan led India’s charge after the side were asked to bat first yet again. He scored their first hundred of the competition, which was adorned with nine fours and four sixes. Saharan played a good supporting act yet again with his 75, even as Dhas’ cameo (21* from nine) helped India over 300.

Tiwari made up for his erratic display in the first game with a four-wicket haul. Pandey also took a three-wicket haul as India triumphed by 201 runs.

Group A, Match 3, v USA in Bloemfontein

Result: India won by 201 runs

Following the pattern of the first two games, India were asked to bat first by the opponents. India’s top-order stood tall once more, this time led by Arshin Kulkarni’s 108. Musheer Khan’s 73 and late innings cameos led India to their second successive 300-plus total.

Tiwari’s sensational new ball spell put USA’s chase in disarray. However, obdurate batting from the North American side ensured that they played out their quota of overs without threatening the India total.

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The best of Musheer Khan so far at the U19 World Cup

Super Six (Group 1), Match 1, v New Zealand in Bloemfontein

Result: India won by 214 runs

Having aced their group games, their contest against New Zealand was perhaps their biggest test in the tournament thus far. And the Boys in Blue came out with flying colours.

After losing Kulkarni early while batting, a strong opening stand between Adarsh and Musheer carried India. Despite losing Adarsh at 105, India kept going for their shots and built towards a strong total. Eventually, Musheer’s brilliant 131, his second century of the tournament, guided them to 295/8.

Limbani’s double-wicket over gave India the perfect start. This was capitalised by his partner, Pandey, who finished with splendid figures of 10-2-19-4. New Zealand were bowled out for 81, even as India took a giant step towards securing a place in the semi-finals.

India v Nepal | Match Highlights | U19 CWC 2024

Match highlights of India's Super Six meeting with Nepal at the U19 Cricket World Cup 2024

Super Six (Group 1), Match 2, v Nepal in Bloemfontein

Result: India won by 132 runs

India won the toss and elected to bat first against their neighbours. Despite losing two quick wickets in the second Powerplay, India went ahead at a brisk pace on the back of centuries from Saharan and Dhas. Together they added 215 runs, India’s best stand in the history of U19 World Cup cricket.

Nepal showed fight with the bat, but Saumy Pandey’s 4/29 ensured that they never got to a stage to make a match out of it. This win helped India top Group 1 of the Super Six, and ensured that they took on the second-placed team from Group 2.

India v South Africa | Match Highlights | U19 CWC 2024

India won a thrilling chase by two wickets.

Semi-final 1, v South Africa in Benoni

Result: India won by two wickets

In a surprising move, India decided to bowl for the first time in the tournament. Despite two early losses, South Africa moved at a positive pace in the first Powerplay. Spinners managed to contain the scoring rate in the middle overs, but late blows helped the hosts finish strong. Lhuan-dre Pretorius (76) and Richard Seletswane (64) stood out with the bat.

Kwena Maphaka and Tristan Luus rocked the India top-order, and soon the side were 32/4. It was Saharan and Dhas stopped the slide, and gradually brought the innings back on track. Their 171-run stand, the best-ever for the fifth wicket or below in U19 cricket for India, helped their side close in on South Africa’s ask. Maphaka returned to strike back for the hosts, but India eventually managed to chase the target with two wickets remaining. Saharan was the Player of the Match for his 81.

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