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U-19 World Cup Final: Why India will pip Australia to most number of titles

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:40 IST

The Twenty20 series decider between India and Sri Lanka in Visakhapatnam is bound to steal the spotlight on 14 February with guaranteed slambang action on the offering. But, while the country's big boys gear up to challenge the Lankans, their Under-19 team will also be in action for a bigger cause - the coveted World title.

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Coached by veteran batsman Rahul Dravid, a seemingly invincible and hardworking Indian team will lock horns with West Indies in the final of the U-19 World Cup scheduled in Mirpur on Sunday.

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India, who won the tournament in 2000, 2008 and 2012, breezed into their fifth final after steamrolling their opponents in the three league games and the knock-outs. The youngsters will also have a chance to create history for India that is currently tied with Australia for the most number of titles in the U-19 showpiece event.

But, the young team will be wary of the West Indies who have upped their game as the tournament progressed. The boys from Caribbean finished second in their group before earning plaudits with a spirited showing against Pakistan and Bangladesh in the quarters and semifinals respectively.

The dangerous opening pair of Rishabh Pant and captain Ishan Kishan has been a major strength for the Indian team which will once again bank on the duo to provide them a flying start. On the other hand, the availability of Anmolpreet Singh and Sarfaraz Khan in the middle-order boosts their batting.

The Indian bowling attack has also impressed in the tournament with seamer Avesh Khan and spinner Mayank Dagar troubling the opposition batsmen consistently.

Ahead of the all-important final, here's a look at five Indian players whose contributions might land the elusive fourth World title for the country:

Sarfaraz Khan

The 18-year-old Mumbai cricketer has been one of the most consistent batsmen for India in the tournament. The right-hander is a clean hitter of the ball and has the ability to score runs at a quick pace. Having amassed 304 runs so far, Sarfaraz is the third-highest scorer and leading Indian run-getter in the tournament.

He has smashed four fities including 30 fours and three sixes in the five matches he has played in the tournament. His team will be counting on his sublime form when they take on the Windies in the final tomorrow.

Avesh Khan

The 19-year-old Indore player has proved to be a revelation for India. With 11 scalps to his name, the right-arm seamer is currently the leading wicket-taker for India in the tournament. His ability to move the new ball consistently and limiting the batsman's scoring opportunities has helped India throughout the tournament.

Avesh's consistency to pick up wickets by putting the new ball around the off-stump corridor and then nip it around will once again be the key for India early in the innings.

Rishabh Pant

The 18-year-old cricketer from Haridwar has been busy terrorising the opposition bowlers in the tournament. In the five games he has played, the left-hander has amassed 266 runs including a hundred and two fifties in the tournament.

He is also second in the list of leading run-scorers for India in the U-19 World Cup. He smashed a record-breaking fifty against Nepal and followed it up with a ton against Namibia to help India qualify for the semifinals.

Mayank Dagar

The 19-year-old spinner missed out on the first two games after India opted to play the leggie Zeeshan Ansari. Coming off the bench for the third match, Dagar made an instant impact as he got the ball to turn and bounce a good deal while bagging two wickets against Nepal.

In the next two matches, he picked up six more wickets to justify his selection and is currently second in the list of leading wicket-takers for India in the tournament. Boasting of a high-arm action and using his height to trouble the batsmen, Dagar was the pick of the bowlers for India with a tally of 3/21 in the semifinal against Sri Lanka.

Ishan Kishan

The 18-year-old Jharkhand cricketer will be eager to replicate the success of Kapil Dev when he guided India to victory against West Indies in the final of the 1983 World Cup. Kishan, who has only one fifty to his name in five innings, would be eager to be amongst runs and finish the tournament on a high.

Given his aggressive batting style, Kishan forms a formidable opening pair alongside Rishabh Pant for India. Apart from his batting, the youngster has also been hailed for his intelligence on the field. India will be hoping for their captain to come good if they intend to land the historic fourth World title on Sunday.

First published: 13 February 2016, 6:01 IST
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.