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Heart-break! West Indies deny India their 4th U-19 World Cup title

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

India's dream of clinching the record fourth Under-19 World Cup was shattered after the colts lost the final by five wickets at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur on 14 February.

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Alzzari Joseph (3/39) and Ryan John (3/38) impressed with the ball, while Keacy Carty (52*) and Keemo Paul (40*) were pivotal with the bat as the boys from the Caribbean clinched their maiden U-19 World title.

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The Indian batsmen were all at sea after being asked to bat on the green wicket. Sarfaraz Khan (51) was the only silver lining in the Indian batting-order that failed to negate the seam bowling of the fiery West Indies seamers.

In the bowling department, leg-spinner Mayank Dagar (3/25) was the pick of the Indian bowlers. India's leading wicket-taker in the tournament, Avesh Khan (1/29), contributed but the right-arm seamer failed to threaten the opposition batsmen in the latter-half of the game.

India missed out on a big chance to become the first-ever team to win the coveted U-19 World Cup title on four occasions. The Men in Blue are tied with Australia with three title wins in the 27-year history of the tournament.

Windies seamers run amok

Though India were the favourites to win ahead of the final, the boys from the Caribbean undoubtedly looked threatening with their fiery set of seam bowlers who made all the difference in the big game.

Alzarri Joseph (3/39) and Ryan John (3/38) bowled with plenty of fire to trouble the Indian batsmen who restricted to ducking and heaving. Joseph spearheaded the Windies' bowling attack and was also the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with a total of 13 wickets.

While Joseph and John set the pace for India's batting collapse, Keemo Paul (2/17) and Chemar Holder (1/20) added on to the woes of the Indian batsmen.

India's run-machine

The 18-year-old Mumbai cricketer has been one of the biggest finds for India in the Under-19 World Cup. The right-hander was the country's leading run-getter in the tournament - only behind England's Jack Burnham (420) in the list top run-scorers of the event.

Sarfaraz smashed 355 runs - including five fifties - the most by any batsmen in the tournament. He also hammered 35 fours and four sixes in the six games he played. At a time when India was struggling against the West Indies' seamers, Sarfaraz played a crucial knock of 51 runs to help India reach a respectable total.

Dagar spins a web

For a player who missed out on the first two games, Mayank Dagar has come a long way to become India's second-highest wicket-taker with 11 scalps in the tournament. The 19-year-old was in the thick of things once again when India was struggling to break the budding partnership between Keacy Carty and Shimron Hetmyer.

The left-arm spinner dismissed the Windies captain in the 23rd over to create panic in the opposition's batting-order. Making full use of his high-arm action and height, Dagar went on to get the better of Shamar Springer and Jyd Goolie to bring his side back into the match.

Dagar could have been even more influential had his teammates supported him in the field. He was denied his fourth wicket when Sarfaraz Khan dropped Keemo Paul at first slip during the 35th over. India's wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant was also to blame when he dropped Keacy Carty behind the stumps in the 41st over.

India's winning-streak ends

While their consistent performances throughout the tournament helped make team India the favourites for the U-19 World Cup, their 15-match winning streak finally came to an end in the mega finale.

The last match they lost was back in 2014 when they were drubbed by England in the World Cup quarterfinal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

India have won 20 of their 21 ODI matches since January, 2014. This is also the fifth time that India had entered the summit clash of the U-19 World Cup.

In this edition of the tournament, India breezed through Group D with an all-win record against New Zealand, Nepal and Ireland - before crushing Namibia by 197 runs in the quarterfinal and Sri Lanka by 97 runs in the semifinal.

Heart-break for Rahul Dravid

Ever since the ouster of coach Duncan Fletcher in 2015, India has been playing under the leadership of Team Director Ravi Shastri in the absence of a proper coach. Rahul Dravid, who has been associated with the top job in the past, was asked to prove his mettle in the lower leagues.

Dravid has mentored the Indian cricket team in the past and was also working closely with the India A team. He played a significant role in five consecutive victories for India's Under-19 team that failed to remain unbeaten in this edition of the tournament.

The Wall also gave a stirring presentation to the Indian colts on the eve of the mega finale. During the final team meeting, Dravid played Shah Rukh Khan's iconic "Yeh sattar minute" speech from his film, Chak De! India.

Dravid told the boys to look beyond winning the tournament. The Indian batting legend said he would be happier if they went on to play Test cricket for India and score a century or take a five-wicket haul at Lord's.

First published: 14 February 2016, 5:55 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.