Graduation day: Young India face final test of mettle

Early on Sunday morning the final of the U-19 World Cup between India and Australia will be relayed ‘live’.

Written by G.S. Vivek | New Delhi | Published: August 26, 2012 12:13:05 am

The residents of Medha Apartments in Mayur Vihar,East Delhi, were busy through Saturday evening trying to convert their community hall into a mini theatre for a special screening starring their ‘society hero’ — Unmukt Chand,India’s Under-19 skipper.

Early on Sunday morning the final of the U-19 World Cup between India and Australia will be relayed ‘live’.

In Chandigarh,opening batsman Prashant Chopra’s parents have told their cable operator to guarantee uninterrupted feed of the final,to be played at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville. During a league game,a power failure had resulted in the Chopras not getting to watch their son open the innings.

Around the country,not only parents and friends of the players but also fans will wake up early to watch Chand’s side try and become the third from the country to win the Under-19 World Cup. Mohammad Kaif in 2000 and Virat Kohli in 2008 have both led India to the title earlier.

India’s Under-19 side will carry confidence from the fact that they have peaked after losing to West Indies in the opener. They had played this very Australian team in Townsville this April,and had beaten them in the final of the four-nation event. In that game Chand had scored a century to lead his side to victory,so it is not surprising that he is confident about his team repeating the feat .

Australia have a trophy cabinet that is better stocked than India’s,having won the title on three occasions. They are now attempting to become the second team after Pakistan to win back-to-back titles. With a coaching staff that includes Greg Chappell,Stuart Law and Craig McDermott,this young Australian side,unbeaten in the tournament,will be well prepared for the final.

Chand,however,was full of confidence. “We have beaten them before. So it gives us confidence and we are not in awe of them. We have a good idea about the way they play and what their strengths are. We have fought hard and reached the final and the way we have won close matches gives us confidence too,” Chand said.

In the quarterfinals India beat Pakistan by one wicket and in the semifinals they got the better of New Zealand by nine runs.

There will be concern in both camps about the batting unit as none of the batsmen,except for Cameron Bancroft who has a century to his name,have been able to convert good starts into three-figure scores in conditions that have largely favoured the seamers.

With a fresh pitch on offer,the batsmen on either side will have to overcomes their traditional weakness — for India movement and bounce,for Australia spin.

When it comes to the slow bowlers,India undoubtedly hold the edge with left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh and off-spinner Baba Aparajith picking up wickets as well as being economical. The medium pace troika of Sandeep Sharma,Kamal Passi and Ravikanth Singh can also be a handful if they utlise the conditions well.

India coach Bharat Arun has adviced the openers,especially Chopra,to consume less number of dot balls but against a skillful Australian pace attack of Joel Paris,Mark Steketee and Gurinder Sandhu seeing off the early spells will be crucial.

“I think the the biggest challenge for the boys is to try and underplay the importance of the game and treat it like normal match. They must play their natural game and bank on their strengths,” Arun said.

Chand is trying to shut out the interest that will be generated back home if they beat Australia on Sunday. “At the moment it is better not to think about it,” he said. When India had won the four-nation tournament after beating Australia in April,Chand was treated like a hero in his residential society

“And this is the World Cup,” he added trying not to get too ahead of himself on the eve of the big final.

Live on ESPN,4.45 am

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