Antigua, Feb 6 (IANS) Riding on half-centuries by Nishant Sindhu and Shaik Rasheed and clinical bowling performances from Raj Bawa and Ravi Kumar, India clinched a record-extending 5th U-19 World Cup title after beating England by four wickets in the final of the 2022 edition of the tournament at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, here on Saturday.
This is India's record fifth title in the tournament's history and came after previously winning it in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018. The Yash Dhull-led India U19 finished the tournament with an unbeaten run in the West Indies, flaunting the strength of the assembly line of Next-Gen India cricketers.
"It's a proud moment for India. It was good batting and a good comeback by England. But we kept cool minds and focused," said Dhull in the post-match presentation.
"It was difficult at the start to get the combination right. but as time went on we became a family and the team atmosphere was good," he added.
The skipper also credited the support staff for the team's success.
With this, Dhull joins the illustrious list of captains -- Mohammad Kaif (2000), Virat Kohli (2008), Unmukt Chand (2012), Prithvi Shaw (2018) -- who have lifted the U19 trophy for India in the past.
A superb bowling performance by Raj Bawa (5/31) and Ravi Kumar (4/34) helped India bowl out England for 189 despite a fighting fifty by James Rew (95). In reply, Shaik Rasheed (50 off 84) and Nishant Sindhu (50 not out off 54) smashed fifties while Raj Bawa (35 off 54) also played a vital knock and helped India chase the target in 47.4 overs, with four wickets in hand.
Chasing a challenging target, India were off to a poor start as left-arm pacer Joshua Boyden removed Angkrish Raghuvanshi for zero in the very second delivery of the innings. After losing Raghuvanshi early, Shaikh Rasheed and Harnoor Singh didn't take too many risks and batted cautiously. The duo took India to 33/1 after 10 overs as England used three bowlers, including captain Tom Prest, in the first powerplay.
From there on, England dried the runs up by bowling some disciplined overs and backed that up with solid efforts in fielding. It was Thomas Aspinwall who gave England the big breakthrough by dismissing opener Harnoor Singh with an unplayable bouncer and ending a 49-run stand for the 2nd wicket.
Captain Yash Dhull, who played a match-winning knock of 110 runs against Australia in the semi-final, then joined vice-captain Rasheed at the crease. The asking rate was not too much but India were under a bit of pressure after that slow start. But Dhull and Shaikh Rasheed showed great composure and added runs quickly.
Rasheed, who took his time during the partnership with Harnoor, was more proactive between the two as he got to his fifty in 83 balls. However, he couldn't carry his innings longer and got out to James Sales while going for a big hit. Soon, Sales dismissed Yash Dhull for 17 and helped England claw back in the match with India at 97 for 4 in 28.4 overs.
From there on, Raj Bawa and Nishant Sindhu joined hands to bail India out of the tricky situation. Both Bawa and Sindhu looked in solid touch and scored at a brisk rate, taking India closer to the target. It took 40 overs for India to hit their first six as Rehan Ahmed was launched over the long-on boundary by Nishant Sindhu, who hit the first six of the second innings to bring his 50-run partnership with Bawa.
With India needing 44 runs in the last 60 balls, Bawa changed gears and smashed a six and a four to turn things in India's favour. In continuation of his aggressive batting, Bawa hit the ball straight to the mid-on fielder and departed after scoring 35 from 54 balls. However, Nishant Sindhu kept his nerves and hit a superb fifty, putting India on the cusp of victory. It was Raj Bawa -- the star of the day-- who hit a couple of sixes and took India over the victory line in style.
Earlier, England won the toss and opted to bat first, but they were off to a terrible start as they lost Jacob Bethell (2) in the second over of the innings. Bethell played for an in-swing but the ball bowled by Ravi Kumar kept its line and the England opener was trapped plumb in front of the wicket.
Captain Tom Prest, who came to bat first, didn't trouble the scorers and got out a duck. He was also dismissed by Ravi Kumar, who bowled a short delivery and Prest dragged the ball onto the stumps, leaving England to 18-2 after 3.3 overs. Thereafter, George Thomas, who was playing counter-attacking shots looking to rebuild England's innings along with James Rew after two early blows.
During the process, Kaushal Tambe dropped a straightforward catch at first slip as Thomas survived and Raj Bawa, the first change bowler, was denied a wicket.
However, the drop didn't cost India that much as Bawa dismissed the dangerous Thomas for 27. Opener Thomas looked to put pressure on Bawa by hitting across the line in the first delivery of the 11th over but he got a leading edge and was caught inside the 30-yard circle.
Continuing his dreamy bowling spell, Raj Bawa soon got rid of Will Luxton and George Bell in two consecutive deliveries of the 13th over as England were five down for 47 runs. Things were not looking good for England; it got worse when Bawa picked his fourth wicket of the match, dismissing Rehan Ahmed (10), who edged the ball straight to the slips and Kaushal Tambe made no mistake.
Wickets were falling from one end but James Rew was holding the fort for England amid all the carnage. He along with Alex Horton hit a few much-needed boundaries and stitched a 30-run stand for the seventh wicket before the latter got out to spinner Kaushal Tambe for 10 in the 25th over of the innings.
At 91-7, it looked like England would get bowled out for a lower total but James Rew and James Sales stitched a solid partnership for the 8th wicket. Rew mixed aggression with caution and found the gaps with ease, scoring his fifty in 79 balls. He was well supported by Sales from the other end as the duo took England to 147/5 after 35 overs. On the other hand, India were looking desperate for a wicket as skipper Yash Dhull made multiple bowling changes.
It was Ravi Kumar, who brought India back into the game by taking two quick wickets in the 44th over. He first got rid of James Rew, who played a fantastic knock of 95, snapping a 93-run stand for the 8th wicket and then removed lower-order batter Thomas Aspinwall for a duck.
Raj Bawa then dismissed Joshua Boyden to take his five-fer as England were bowled out for 189 after 44.5 overs. James Sales remained not out after scoring 34 off 65.
Brief scores: England U-19: 189 all out in 44.5 overs (James Rew 95, James Sales 34; Raj Bawa 5/31, Ravi Kumar 4/34) lost to India U-19: 195-6 in 47.4 overs (Shaik Rasheed 50, Nishant Sindhu 50; Joshua Boyden 2/24) by four wickets