More than the victory itself, cricket buffs were pleased to watch the future of Indian cricket coming to the fore in the tournament. Unmukt Chand, Harmeet Singh and Baba Aparajith presented a solid picture of themselves, to ensure that India placed their hands around the silverware. But the youngsters didn’t start on a winning note.
Despite losing their opening game to the West Indies, India won their next two matches over Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea to qualify for the quarters against Pakistan. Chasing 136, India were reduced to 127/9, before Harmeet Singh and Sandeep Sharma held their nerve to take their side into the semis against New Zealand.
Prashant Chopra’s half-century helped India rake up 209/9, and then the bowlers took over to quell the Kiwi response. The colts were now just one step away from bringing home the country’s third U-19 World Cup title, with Australia in the way. In the final, a four-wicket haul from Sandeep Sharma saw the hosts being restricted to 225/8, with their skipper William Bosisto (87*) leading from the front. Unmukt Chand followed the example set by his counterpart, scoring 111* to take India home, with a captain’s knock that had flair written all over it. It was time to celebrate in the present, and for the future.