U-19 World Cup: Battle of wrist spinners as India starts favourite against Australia

Australia has a dismal record against India at the junior level, losing four of the last five U-19 encounters since 2013 and one game abandoned due to rain.

Skipper Priyam Garg (11) will be counting on Ravi Bishnoi (C) to help India past Australia.   -  Getty Images

Indian wrist spinner Ravi Bishnoi’s repertoire of skills will meet a match in Australian Tanveer Sangha’s variations in a face-off between two talented tweakers during the quarterfinal of the ICC U-19 World Cup on Tuesday.

The white-ball cricket in recent times has seen wrist spinners emerge as an important cog and junior cricket is no different where Bishnoi, easily the tournament’s most impactful bowler, would like to give his team the advantage over the Australian side.

With 10 wickets from three games and game-changing 4 for 30 against a gritty New Zealand side, Bishnoi has proved why Kings XI Punjab has invested Rs 2 crore on him during the auction.

Statistically, even Sangha has been at his best with 10 wickets with 5 for 14 against minnows Nigeria. But there’s been a four-wicket haul against the West Indies and a wicket to show against England for the player of Indian origin.

On Tuesday, both the wrist spinners will be key to their team’s chances and Australia will look to improve its dismal record against India at the junior level.

In the last five U-19 encounters since 2013 (different teams have played though), India has won four with one game being abandoned due to rain.

As a team, India is way ahead — both in terms of quality as well as — temperament with the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal (two half-centuries), his opening partner Divyansh Saxena and skipper Priyam Garg showing glimpses of their talent.

In the bowling department, lanky UP boy Kartik Tyagi, who breaches the 140 kmph barrier quite regularly, and left-arm seamer Akash Singh, moving the white ball back into the right-handers, are a heady combination.

And there is left-arm spinner Atharva Ankolekar, who came back brilliantly against the Junior Black Caps despite being attacked early on. He got three crucial breakthroughs but a finger fracture in his right hand could be an issue while fielding.

While Jaiswal, Garg, NT Tilak Verma and Saxena make India’s batting look strong, Australia skipper Mckenzie Harvey (nephew of former Australian all-rounder Ian Harvey) is a tough customer with the bat as he showed with an innings of 65 against England in their final group game.

Then there is Conor Sully, who bowls brisk medium pace and also has the ability to use the long handle to good effect.

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