A seemingly invincible India are primed to win an unprecedented fourth ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup when they take on a wily West Indies in the final here tomorrow.
India breezed into their fifth final under the precious guidance of coach Rahul Dravid, steamrolling their opponents in the three league games as well as in the knock-outs.
If they win tomorrow, India will surpass Australia for the most number of titles in the U-19 showpiece event introduced way back in 1988. The sub-continent team last lifted the trophy in 2012 after winning it in 2008 and 2000.
The Indians seem unstoppable but they can’t afford to take it easy against the West Indians, who have upped their game as the tournament progressed. The boys from Caribbean finished second in their group before earning plaudits with a spirited showing against Pakistan and Bangladesh in the quarters and semifinals respectively.
India will once again bank on their dangerous opening duo of Rishabh Pant and captain Ishan Kishan to give them a flying start.
Kishan, who has only one fifty to his name in five innings, would love to be amongst the runs in the big final. Another IPL recruit, Pant, too, would be itching to rise to the occasion after getting out cheaply against Sri Lanka in the semifinals.
Anmolpreet Singh would be high on confidence after making a crucial 72 against Sri Lanka and so would be power hitter Sarfaraz Khan, who is India’s leading run-getter in the competition with 304 runs at an average of 76, including four fifties in five games.
Pacer Avesh Khan, with 11 scalps, has taken the most number of wickets for the team while left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar, too, has impressed with eight wickets from four matches at an average of 12.
The West Indies know they have their task cut out ahead of their second tournament final, having finished runners-up to Pakistan in 2004.
The Indian bowlers will have to find a way to stop Shamar Springer, who has been the most impressive West Indies batsman with 282 runs at 70.50. The all-rounder came up with handy knocks of 37 and 62 not out to take his team home in the knock-outs. Their standout bowler has been pacer Alzarri Joseph, who has taken 10 wickets at an average of 14.