The Indian under-19 cricket team’s quest for an unprecedented fourth World Cup title ended in disaster today as the West Indies out-witted the Rahul Dravid -coached side by five wickets in a tense summit clash to clinch the coveted trophy for the first time since its inception.
Put in to bat by the Caribbeans on a green-top amid overcast conditions, the script went completely awry for the Indians, who were dismissed for 145 in 45.1 overs with Sarfaraz Khan’s 89-ball 51 being the only noteworthy contribution.
In reply, the West Indies made heavy weather of the chase in a slow-moving but thrilling match to overhaul the score in 49.3 overs. The heroes for West Indies were Man of the Match Keacy Carty (52 not out off 125 ball) and Keemo Paul (40 not out off 68 balls) both of whom kept their cool in the high-pressure game to take the side home.
Chasing the modest target, the Caribbeans were not off to the best of starts as both their openers — Gifron Pope (3) and Tevin Imlach (15) — were dismissed with just 28 runs on the board. Skipper Shimron Hetmyer (23) and Carty then put together a 39-run third-wicket stand to steady the rocking boat.
However, left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar gave India the much-needed breakthrough when he got Hetmyer caught at long on by Armaan Jaffer. Next man in was Shamar Springer (3), the West Indies’ most successful batsman of the tournament with 282 runs prior to today.
But the right-hander could not make an impact today and struggled for nine deliveries before an attempted slog sweep had him caught by Jaffer, off Dagar again. While wickets were tumbling around him, Carty kept his cool to plough on even though the scoring rate was painfully slow.
Proceedings livened up when Carty was joined by Paul. The 17-year-old Paul pushed hard for his singles and it was his six off Dagar which broke the shackles for West Indies after a lengthy stretch of dot balls.
The 69-run stand between Carty and Paul made all the difference in the end as the unbeaten Indians finally found their match in the summit clash. The Indian bowlers led by Dagar (3/25) were saddled with the tough task of defending a paltry total and they did a decent job for most part of the match but eventually it was not to be enough.
The Indian fielders were also guilty of spilling a few good chances, which could have tilted the match in their team’s favour. The Ishan Kishan-led Indians were looking to win their first World Cup since 2012.