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Champions! Australia U19s break 14-year drought with dominant World Cup final win, India bridesmaids again

11th February, 2024
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11th February, 2024
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Australia’s terrific teenage cricketers have emulated their seniors by beating India to become champions of the world.

Hugh Weibgen’s gifted side lifted the Under-19 World Cup at the South African venue of Benoni with a comprehensive 79-run win over the reigning champs on Sunday.

After compiling a daunting 7-253 off their 50 overs, the Australians, with their “ferocious” young quartet of fast bowlers and the artful spin of Raf MacMillan, skittled out India’s previously unbeaten side for 174 off 43.5 overs at Willowmoore Park.

“It’s unbelievable, and I’m just so proud of the boys and our coaches,” said their Queensland skipper Weibgen. 

“A lot of work has gone into this over the last year – but it gives you a fair bit of confidence when you’ve got a pace attack like ours.”

The youngsters became the fourth Aussie U19 team to win the tournament that has so often unearthed gems of the future, and the first since 2010 when Josh Hazlewood helped Mitch Marsh’s side lift the crown in New Zealand.

This time, the triumph came off the back of more quality fast bowling with Australia’s gamble of playing all four of their hugely promising quicks paying off as they proved far too relentless for an Indian batting line-up that was asked to chase down a record score in a final to prevail.  

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Having won the toss and elected to bat on a humid, overcast morning, the accomplished Weibgen himself (48 off 66 balls) and aggressive left-handed opener Harry Dixon (42 off 56) provided a fine launch pad.

Then the much-touted Harjas Singh, who’d moved to Sydney from India with his family when he was a boy, put a miserable tournament behind him in which he’d  scored just 49 runs in six innings by hammering a half-century decorated with three sixes.

When India earned valuable wickets and threatened to bowl out the Aussies, 17-year-old Ollie Peake, son of former Victoria player Clinton Peake who was himself a teenage, triple-century-scoring prodigy, produced a gem of a finisher’s knock, smacking an unbeaten 46 off 43 balls.

Australian players celebrate victory after defeating India in the U19 World Cup final.

Australian players celebrate victory after defeating India in the U19 World Cup final. (Photo by Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

“I’d always back us to defend a total of 250-plus when we have an attack like ours,” said Weibgen.

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Siure enough, India never looked like challenging the score once Queensland’s red hot paceman Callum Vidler – motto: “if anyone ever tells me to slow down, I am not listening to them” – got Arshin Kulkarni caught behind in just the third over.

But it was player of the match Mahli Beardman (3-15 off seven overs) who was the real pick of the quicks, making the key double breakthrough of star batters Musheer Khan and captain Uday Saharan in his silky swift spells, while his pal Vidler took 2-35 off his 10 and swing bowler Charlie Anderson 1-42 off nine.

Tom Straker, the other quick nicknamed ‘Monster Truck’ who’d taken a record-breaking six-wicket haul in the semi against Pakistan, then got in on the final act, as wicketkeeper Ryan Hicks snaffled his fourth catch to end the innings and cue huge celebrations.

The team’s fast boys call themselves the “Cartel”, as Beardman, who has had a certain DK Lillee as a mentor back in Western Australia, smiled: “Standing alongside Cal and the rest of the Cartel, it’s a dream come true – I feel super privileged.”

But spin had its day too. The excellent allrounder MacMillan snaffled the wicket of the dangerous Sachin Das with the first slow ball in the innings, caught behind, and added two more key scalps in his invaluable 3-43 off 10.

© AAP

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