U-19 World Cup final: Can Boys in Blue uphold their track record against Australia?

We carry the dreams of a billion hearts on our shoulders, says captain Uday Saharan

Uday Saharan, U-19 India captain, gives a pep talk to his teammates ahead of the semi-final. (photo: ICC)
Uday Saharan, U-19 India captain, gives a pep talk to his teammates ahead of the semi-final. (photo: ICC)
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Gautam Bhattacharyya

Virat Kohli, Mohammed Kaif, Prithvi Shaw – no prizes for guessing that the common thread among them is that they have been among the captains of India’s Under-19 World Cup winning teams. Can young Uday Saharan, the in-form Punjab batter, emulate them at the serene Willowmoore Park in Benoni, South Africa on Sunday?

As the defending champions take on Australia in the final, both the Boys in Blue and their opponents are riding an all-win record in six matches so far and the team holding their nerves better should win the day. The track record gives India an edge as on both occasions that the two teams met in the finals in 2012 and 2018, they had finished as winners – but past records often count for little in such contests.

If the two semi-finals are anything to go by, both finalists have shown they have it in them to prevail in tight finishes. Chasing 245 for victory against the Proteas, India battled back from 32 for four to seal a memorable win - thanks to a match-winning partnership between Sachin Dhas and Saharan.

The second semi-final also provided no shortage of drama as Australia pulled off a jailbreak over Pakistan by one wicket in the final over. Having bowled out Pakistan for a seemingly below par total of 179, Australia stuttered in their chase before their middle and lower order formed crucial partnerships to help them edge home in thrilling fashion.

Saharan, the highest rungetter in the tournament with 389 runs at an average of 64.83, seemed wary of the weight of expectations as the Indian media would only be too keen to see a possible win as avenging the senior team’s defeat in Ahmedabad – albeit a far fetched thought. ‘’We carry the dreams of a billion hearts on our shoulders. Our journey has been a testament to our hard work, unity, and love for the game. In this final battle, we aim to create a legacy that inspires the next generation. It’s not just a game; it’s a chance to etch our names in history,’’ said Saharan, for whose team it’s the fifth straight final.

“Right from our first game, we have played with passion, determination and a belief that we will get the coveted title home. In the final against Australia, it is going to be no different as we go one step closer to defending the title successfully. Together, as one team, one nation, we march into the final, ready to seize our moment and make India proud.’’

Hugh WeibgenSaharan’s Australian counterpart, told ICC media: “We’re really pleased to have made it through to the final after a close game against Pakistan and we can't wait to take on India in the final.

“The whole squad has done a terrific job throughout the tournament and it would mean so much to us as a group to lift the trophy on Sunday. This is an opportunity to make our coaches as well as family and friends extremely proud. They have helped and supported us along the journey.

“India have obviously also had an outstanding tournament so far and are a class team. We’re expecting they will provide a challenge for us, and we are looking forward to it.”

Fans in India will be able to watch the action unfold on Star Sports 1 and Disney+ Hotstar, with free-to-air coverage available on Doordarshan. In Australia, Prime Video will be providing live coverage across devices.

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