India faces Australia in U-19 World Cup opener

Three-time champion India opens its U-19 World Cup campaign against Australia at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on Sunday.

The Prithvi Shaw-led Indian side will take on Australia in its opening U-19 World Cup encounter.   -  ICC

India’s potential future stars will lock horns with Australia in its big- ticket ICC U-19 World Cup campaign opener on Sunday. The Indians are three-time champions, with their last triumph coming in 2014, while the side finished runners-up to West Indies in 2016.

Coached by the iconic Rahul Dravid, there is no dearth of talent in the sqaud, and the former India captain’s determined boys would have gotten acclimatised to the conditions by now, having arrived many days prior to the start of the tournament.

While Dravid, who has been at the helm of U-19 and India A squad for some time, may not like to focus on individuals, it is very difficult to not see the likes of skipper Prithvi Shaw as the a vital cog in the team’s batting wheel. Alongside Shaw, who has created ripples with his exploits in the domestic circuit for Mumbai, there is Himanshu Rana, who has also amassed plenty of runs in Youth ODIs.

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Punjab’s Shubhman Gill at number three is one of the most exciting young batsmen going around, and with a few impressive first-class games this Ranji Trophy season, he will have gained confidence.

The top-order’s performance is likely to be crucial to India’s chances in the tournament. The middle-order is likely to be manned by Anukul Roy and Abhishek Sharma, and they would certainly want to make their presence felt.

Another exciting name doing the rounds is Bengal pacer Ishan Porel. In Mohammed Shami’s absence in the state team, Porel has caught the eye in the limited opportunities that came his way. He will spearhead the pace attack and will be complemented by Shivam Mavi, who will be aided by the seaming conditions.

Mavi attracted the attention of the selectors after his performance in the zonal level ‘Challengers’ tournament where he bagged nine wickets in four matches. His right-arm fast-medium bowling helped India A whitewash England in England last year.

-Well prepared side-

Captain Shaw said he is happy with the team’s preparations. “We’ve been here a week now, played a couple of games. Everything has gone well, the preparation of the team has been good. Our goal is obviously to win the World Cup but at the same time we are looking forward to our first game,” he said.

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Asked if there are any Indian players in particular he thinks could have a lot of success at this tournament, Dravid said, We don’t like to focus too much on the individuals. We believe we’ve got a very good squad together and the opportunities for us to play well as a team are there.

“We’ve been playing some very good cricket of late, so rather than focusing on individuals and naming a few people, at this age we really believe that every one of these kids is talented.

“They’ve got the ability to go on and do well in this tournament, and not only in this tournament but also to go on and play professional cricket and do well there,” he said.

Like his counterpart from India, Australia captain Jason Sangha has also made a mark in the domestic scene and adding to the tournament’s flavour will be Steve Waugh’s son, Austin Waugh. Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland’s son Will is also a part of the squad.

Teams:

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.

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.