(ICC) Only time will tell how West Indies Under-19 lifting the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016 trophy will impact the health of the game, especially in their islands. But 11 young boys led by Shimron Hetmyer were hardly thinking about the ramifications of their performance on the big picture as they scripted a tense five-wicket win over India Under-19 in the final at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today.
That the West Indians’ minds were very much in the present was evident in the fourth ball of India’s innings after West Indies elected to field on a green-tinged pitch that was being used for the third time in the tournament. Standing outside his crease to Alzarri Joseph, Rishabh Pant was caught unawares as Tevin Imlach’s underarm throw gave him a stumping off the tournament’s fastest bowler.
Late to switch on on the big day, India was blown away by a disciplined pace attack led by Joseph and Chemar Holder and was bowled out for 145 in 45.1 overs. After that India fought hard through Mayank Dagar’s three wickets but Pant, who was ordinary behind the stumps, missed an edge off Keemo Paul in the 41st over. Paul remained unbeaten on 40 off 68 balls and his unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 69 runs with Keacy Carty (52 not out in 125 balls) got the job done with three balls left as West Indies won its first title in 11 editions.
After Pant walked away in disbelief in the first over of the match, Anmolpreet Singh was found out by Joseph’s bounce and edged one that did just enough on its way to Imlach. Ishan Kishan, India’s captain who had said on match eve that playing out the initial overs was the plan, was a bit unlucky to be given out lbw to one that might have gone down the leg side.
Promoted to No. 4, Washington Sundar and Sarfaraz Khan played out Joseph and Holder well. But Washington was sucked in by the slowness of Ryan John and hit a full delivery straight to mid-off. Armaan Jaffer fell in similar fashion as Sharman Springer brought out his ‘chest roll’ dance – it wouldn’t be the only time on the day.
With the first five batsmen dismissed for single-digit scores, the focus shifted to the experienced Sarfaraz. For a large part of his innings, he batted with control and hardly looked out of place, except for when Holder hit him on his thumb, even when he was beaten.
With Hetmyer putting six to seven fielders inside the 30-yard ring at different stages of the innings, Sarfaraz and Mahipal Lomror focussed on crease occupation during their 37-run stand – the best partnership in India’s innings.
Lomror looked solid in his approach, but Holder had him caught behind with the first ball of his second spell right after the drinks break. Looking to wrap up the innings, Hetmyer bowled out Joseph and Holder by the 32ndover. Even though Joseph had more wickets to show, Holder’s ten overs in which he conceded 20 runs was a delight to watch. He hit the right areas consistently, and used his smooth action and height to keep things tight.
Sarfaraz tried to resurrect the innings, yet again, with Dagar through the seventh-wicket partnership of 29 runs. He took calculated risks as he hit Holder for a four with a ramp shot to third man and then picked up a full slower ball from John to hit a six over mid-wicket.
Even as Carty took a smart catch at gully to send Dagar back soon after Sarfaraz’s fifth fifty of the tournament in the 37th over, the responsibility was on the senior batsman to guide India’s tail till the end. Instead, Sarfaraz lost focus and played a full delivery across the line to be out lbw, John picking up the second of his three wickets.
In the West Indies reply, after losing Gidron Pope and Imlach within the eighth over, it built the chase through the steady third-wicket partnership of 39 runs between Hetmyer and Carty.
The introduction of Dagar in the 23rd over provided India the much-needed breakthrough as Hetmyer, who has played so beautifully against the spinners, was deceived by the flight to be caught by Jaffer at long-on. Springer was caught by Jaffer at long-off in Dagar’s third over, and six runs later, Dagar took a sharp return catch to send Jyd Goolie back.
India suddenly returned to the contest, but Lomror conceded a few easy runs, and Kishan held back one over of Washington, who conceded just 18 runs. And, then with West Indies needing 37 off 40 balls, Pant grassed Paul.
That India bowled a few wides towards the end and fumbled on the field before Paul hit the winning run also did not help its cause.
In the end, Carty’s knock proved decisive. Even as the other West Indies batsmen were caught between attack and defence, Carty did not deter from his brief of holding the innings together. His runs came at a strike rate of 41.60, and that was more than enough to get the West Indians to start their celebrations.