MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand, Feb 3, (AFP): Opener Manjot Kalra smacked an unbeaten 101 in even time as India easily disposed of Australia at Mount Maunganui on Sunday to win the Under-19 World Cup for a fourth time.
With Kalra scoring freely, India won by eight wickets as they chased down Australia’s 216 all out with more than 11 overs to spare.
The opener’s century included eight fours and three sixes, and he was well supported by wicketkeeper Harvik Desai, who was 47 not out when he finished the match with a boundary.
The pair put on 89 for the third wicket, while Prithvi Shaw scored 29 at the top of the innings and Shubman Gill added 31.
“I really can’t express what I’m feeling now,” said captain Shaw.
“It was the final, a very crucial hundred from Manjot. Gill was batting really well. And the two pacers, Mavi and Kamlesh, (have) been excellent throughout the tournament.”
Man of the match Kalra, not surprisingly, felt the wicket was ideal for batting.
“I enjoyed it a lot. The conditions were good. Not a difficult wicket, it was flat and good to bat on,” he said.
Australia’s innings, all over in the 48th over, was held together by Jonathan Merlo’s 76 after it fell apart despite a promising start.
Jack Edwards (28) and Max Bryant (14) batted at a run a ball through the first five overs.
But once both were dismissed by Ishan Porel, the steam went out of the Australian innings.
Merlo and Param Uppal (34) put on 75 for the fourth wicket but it took more than 17 overs, and there was little resistance from the following batsmen.
Porel finished with two for 30 while left-arm spinner Shiva Singh was instrumental in slowing the Australian run rate with two for 36.
Batting great Sachin Tendulkar led the accolades after India’s Under-19 cricketers won a record fourth World Cup, sparking off celebrations in the cricket-crazy country.
Fans danced in the streets and exchanged sweets just as Harvik Desai hit the winning boundary in the final to seal an eight-wicket win over Australia.
With celebrated former captain Rahul Dravid as the coach, the Indians finished the 16-team competition in New Zealand unbeaten.
The Prithvi Shaw-led side’s winning streak included a crushing 203-run triumph over arch-rival Pakistan in the semifinal.
Tendulkar, who was a part of India’s senior side that won the World Cup in 2011, said the win should spur the players to bigger glory in the coming days.
“With great team work, great dreams work. Congratulations to our world champions, you have made us proud,” Tendulkar said in a recorded video on Twitter.
“For our youngsters the beautiful journey has just begun … continue to give your best and enjoy the game above all, good luck and have a wonderful career.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) promptly announced a cash bonanza for the team, with Dravid to receive five million rupees ($78,000) and $47,000 for each of the 16 players in the winning squad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too joined in the collective applause, saying the win made every Indian extremely proud.
“Absolutely thrilled by the stupendous achievement of our young cricketers,” Modi tweeted from his official account.
Mohammad Kaif (2000), current senior team captain Virat Kohli (2008) and Unmukt Chand (2012) had previously led the Indian Under-19 team to victory.