A FEARSOME four-pronged pace attack, spearheaded by the thunderous Callum Vidler and Mahli Beardman, who had Anrich Nortje transfixed to the action, led Australia to Under-19 World Cup glory in Benoni on Sunday.
The pace pack snuffed out six Indian wickets to bring their unbeaten campaign to a juddering halt after the top order had no answer to Australia’s heat and hostility.
Beardman inflicted maximum damage, finishing with 3-15 off seven overs.
The win was also, in no small part, thanks to a vital contribution from middle-order batter Harjas Singh, who injected momentum into Australia’s innings to top score with 55.
In doing so, Harjas repaid the faith of the team management after a lean run had him score just 49 runs, including a highest of 17, in six innings prior to the final.
Most admirable was the manner in which he overcame a slow start and made up for it with his superb takedown of India’s excellent spinners that powered them to 253-7, which was 79 too many for India.
After losing twice previously to India in the finals of the Under-19 World Cup (in 2012 and 2018), Hugh Weibgen‘s class of 2024 won the title for the first time since Mitchell Marsh’s batch won in 2010.
Australia have now beaten India in three ICC finals back-to-back.
India’s chase hardly got out of second gear. Adarsh Singh, the opener, painstakingly made 47 and hung around till the 31st over in the hope of trying to pull off a late heist after the top order that brushed past attacks in the lead up to the knockouts folded cheaply.
A miscued pull to a sharp Beardman bouncer, just an over after he had hooked a short ball for six, had Adarsh gloving to wicketkeeper Ryan Hicks all but sealed it for Australia as India slumped to 115-7.
Murugan Abhishek peppered boundaries in a ninth-wicket stand of 46 with Naman Tiwari to bring India’s equation into double figures – they needed 88 off the last 10 overs with two wickets in hand.
But there was never really a sense that they were pushing for an unlikely win; they were simply delaying the inevitable.
The final stamp of victory was achieved in the 44th over when Tom Straker, their semi-final hero over Pakistan, packed off Tiwari to trigger massive celebrations in the Australian camp as they lifted their fourth title overall. (ESPNcricinfo)