India Under-19 skipper Unmukt Chand hit an unbeaten 111 in seamer-friendly conditions to lead India to a six-wicket win over Australia in the final of the World Cup at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville,Queensland,on Sunday.
Australia,the defending champions,had done well to recover from 38 for four,thanks to skipper William Bosisitos unbeaten 87,and post 225 for eight but Unmukt topped that effort by combining with Baba Aparajith in a 73-run stand for the second wicket and was then involved in a match-winning 130-run stand for the fifth wicket with Smit Patel,who finished on 62 not out,to help India win with 14 balls to spare. India were 97 for 4 when Chand and Patel got together.
Medium pacer Sandeep Sharma was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 54 after India elected to field.
It was the second time in four months that the Indian Under-19 team had beaten their Australian counterparts. In the final of the quadrangular tournament in April,also in Townsville,Chand had made an unbeaten 112 to lead India to a seven-wicket victory.
Chand joined Mohammad Kaif in 2000 and Virat Kohli in 2008 as captains who have led India to the U-19 World Cup title.
Australia were the defending champions and they have been unbeaten in the tournament. Beating Australia in Australia is a challenge that I have always enjoyed. I had a very mediocre tournament by my standards and I frittered away a few starts so I wanted to make up for all of that. I have this knack of playing big knocks in finals and I am glad that I did it again, Unmukt told The Indian Express before heading for a team party.
Incidentally,after Indias one-wicket win over Pakistan in the quarterfinal,Chand seemed to have a premonition about achieving glory. The 19-year-old had then updated his BBM status to: This is it. I can already feel the Cup in my hand.
High praise for Unmukt and his team also came from the opposition camp. It is not the first time that Unmukt has terrorised us. The Indians did great work, said Australia skipper Bosisito.
India Under-19 coach Bharat Arun said: I had reminded Unmukt about his knack of playing big knocks in the final stages and he really saved his best for the last. He played a very mature innings. The boys truly deserve this win.
Unmukts father Bharat Chand Thakur watched most of the game,that was telecast from 5 am onwards,on a giant screen erected within the community hall of his residential complex. When I spoke to him on the eve of the game,Unmukt told me that he was confident of beating the Australians, he said.