The U-19 World Cup is a breeding ground for cricketers aspiring to make their name on the international stage. The ones that do well at this stage get to represent their country at senior level, more often than not. The Indian team had plenty of such stars who rose to the occasion and helped the team win from various situations. They fell agonisingly short in the final as Bangladesh lifted the cup, but the young Boys in Blue won plenty of hearts for the heart they showed throughout the tournament.

In all, the team played six games. Priyam Garg’s team won all the 3 matches in the group stage, aced the quarter-final and were dominant in the semi-final as well. The three Rajasthan Royals boys played major roles in all these encounters, and in the final too. The way they played made all of us proud and India’s journey in the 2020 ICC U-19 World Cup is worth revisiting.

India vs Sri Lanka: Won by 90 runs

The first game of a World Cup can be a nervous affair. It is vital to put your best foot forward and start with a win - Team India did exactly that. The first game against Sri Lanka witnessed an excellent team effort with strong performances all through. With the bat, the Indian side was able to post a formidable 297. A strong start from Rajasthan Royals’ very own Yashasvi Jaiswal, who top-scored with 59, was followed by substantial contributions from skipper Garg, wicketkeeper Jurel and Veer. Chasing 298, Sri Lanka were never allowed to accelerate. A disciplined bowling effort meant that the Lankans were under pressure throughout and were eventually bowled out for 207. This comprehensive result signalled the quality and intentions of the Indian side across the tournament.

India vs Japan: Won by 10 wickets

Japan were making their debut in the U19 World Cup and facing India was never the easiest task. The gulf between the two teams was evident throughout the short affair. After being put in to bat, Japan were bundled out for 41 inside 23 overs. The Rajasthan Royals pace duo of Kartik Tyagi and Akash Singh made complete use of the conditions and struck at regular intervals to decimate the Japanese line-up. The inexperience in the batting line-up was evident from the Japanese as some quality leg-spin from Bishnoi proved too hot to handle. Jaiswal and Kushagra knocked off the target of 42 runs in under 5 overs and registered one of the biggest wins ever in U-19’s history.

India vs New Zealand: Won by 44 runs, D/L method

This encounter was supposed to be the toughest assignment in the group stage for India U-19. New Zealand posed a substantial threat to the four-time winners and did test India a good deal through the course of the match. The Kiwis won the toss and put India in. The Indian openers provided a steady start and looked at ease in their opening stand of 115 in 23 overs before the rain factored in. Jaiswal and Saxena were both able to register fifties before the disruption. The fixture was reduced to a 23-overs affair with New Zealand given a target of 192 via DLS.

The Kiwis’ start was good and had the Indian bowlers under some pressure. New Zealand scored over nine per over in the first ten overs and were keeping up with the rate. The Indian bowlers were persistent and were rewarded with wickets at regular intervals to dismiss the Kiwis for 147 in 21 overs. Bishnoi was once again the wrecker-in-chief with a four-for, with Ankolekar ably supported him with a three-for. The win showcased India’s temperament and that they could bounce back from tough situations.

Quarterfinal India vs Australia: Won by 74 runs

Two of the most successful teams in U-19 World Cup history locked horns in a knockout clash. This was the game where all three young recruits from Rajasthan Royals came to the fore and took charge. Australia won the toss and chose to bowl. The opening spell from Willans and Sully tested the Indian batsmen and made it difficult to score early on. Jaiswal batted through the difficult phase, showed the calm side to his game, scoring a solid 62 before being bowled by Sangha. The Australian bowling was on point and it took a late surge from Ankolekar and Bishnoi to take India to a fighting score of 233 in 50 overs.

India needed a good start defending this score and Tyagi raised his hand and delivered with an outstanding spell. He was impeccable with his lengths and was able to dismantle the Aussie top order picking up 4 for 24. From 17/4, Australia were able to come back in the game, forging partnerships in the middle and were in the hunt for the target. If Kartik was the top order wrecker, Akash Singh provided the late burst with 3 lower wickets to register a comprehensive 74-run win over Australia. India set themselves an U-19 World Cup semi-final clashh against Pakistan.

Semi-final, India vs Pakistan: Won by 10 wickets

India vs Pakistan in a World Cup. It couldn’t get any bigger! The Boys in Blue brought their top performances to this game. The bowling set the tone for the day, as Pakistan remained confined in terms of scoring. The fall of regular wickets proved detrimental as Pakistan collapsed from 96 for 2 to 172 all out. Tyagi, Mishra, and Bishnoi were solid with the ball and laid the foundation to secure a below-par target on a good batting surface.

The Indian openers looked fortified and played out the first few overs safely. The initial defensive phase paved the way for solid stroke play later, as India inched closer to a place in the final. Jaiswal’s innings picked up speed as the partnership powered beyond the three-figure mark. Outscoring Saxena, Jaiswal reached his century and India’s target in style with a six. India made it to their third consecutive U-19 World Cup final in style.

Final, India vs Bangladesh: Lost by 3 wickets

Both India and Bangladesh had been impressive and on winning streaks through the course of the tournament. Bangladesh won the toss and decided to bowl. While Jaiswal looked solid, wickets continued to fall around him. The Bangladeshi bowlers were accurate and restricted India’s run-scoring throughout the innings. The pressure of the low scoring rate eventually got to the batsmen, as quick wickets in the middle over led to a collapse. Jaiswal’s resilience gave India some hope as he concentrated hard and tried to hold one end up. However, a soft dismissal led to his departure on 88. India were eventually bowled out for 177.

Bangladesh started well but quick wickets in the middle overs got India back into the game. Bishnoi looked a class above anyone else on the day, picking up yet another four-for in the tournament. The rest of the bowlers tried their best to take more wickets, but Bangladesh defied them. Moreover, thirty three extras on the day meant that India were not able to make up with the ball. Bangladesh were the deserving winners on the day, as captain Akbar guided the team to their first-ever ICC trophy.

The final result was disappointing for Team India, but the run to the final was something that all of us are proud of. All the players had impactful displays throughout the tournament, especially the Rajasthan Royals boys, who have us excited for things to come. These U-19 boys definitely have the talent and potential to play for India in the future and achieve greater things. Here’s hoping we see a lot more of them in the coming days and make India once again!