Manjot Kalra’s ton leads India Under-19 to World Cup glory

Manjot Kalra’s ton leads India Under-19 to World Cup glory

Manjot Kalra's ton leads India Under-19 to World Cup glory

India Under-19 217 for 2 (Kalra 101*, Desai 47*, Gill 31) beat Australia Under-19 216 all out (Merlo 76, Uppal 34, Anukul 2-32, Shiva Singh 2-36) by eight wickets

India sauntered to an unprecedented fourth Under-19 World Cup title in front of a strong 4000-odd crowd at Bay Oval to cap an unbeaten campaign that had begun against Australia at the same venue three weeks ago. The margin of victory was 100 runs then. On Saturday, it was comprehensive as well – by eight wickets – with the result being that much more significant.

This was India’s second-highest chase at the Under-19 World Cup, behind the 226 they scored six years ago to beat Australia in Townsville in 2012. Unmukt Chand led the chase with a sublime century then. On Saturday, it was the turn of another Delhi boy Manjot Kalra to hog the limelight. In the tournament opener against Australia, he had missed his century by 14 runs in an effort to hit out. In the title bout, he more than made up for that lapse by bringing up a sublime 101 not out off 102 balls to steer the chase.

Kalra’s game – driven by instinct and delightful hand-eye coordination – powered India ahead along with Prithvi Shaw after a short rain interval interval four overs into the innings. It all started with a free-hit which he biffed for six, but truly hit the high notes when he took Jack Edwards for three boundaries in the 11th over. When Will Sutherland got one to move away to castle Shaw for 29, India were 71 for 1.

As much as Australia were relieved that they’d broken through, they watched the in-form Shubman Gill, with an average of over 100 in Youth ODIs and in the midst of a run of six successive fifty-plus scores, walk out and crunch three exquisite cover drives within five minutes of his arrival at the crease.

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