The tournament’s most successful side in history will take on first-time finalists as India and Bangladesh face off in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Super League Final.
No country can better the four titles that India have won since first reigning supreme in 2000, with Priyam Garg’s side now looking for back-to-back tournament wins for the first time.
But the defending champions will have to work hard to defend their crown at JB Marks Oval, with Bangladesh seeking glory in what has already been an historic tournament in South Africa.
Never before have the Tigers reached the Super League final, their previous best efforts coming on home turf when finishing third in 2016. This year, however, they have broken through to show the world what they are all about – bidding to turn their maiden final into a first victory in Potchefstroom.
Such has been their dominance in recent years, you have to go back as far 2014 for the last time India weren’t in the final.
Indeed the only game they have lost in the past six years was the 2016 final, their ongoing 11-game winning run showing exactly why they have become the high-flyers in the U19 Cricket World Cup.
This edition has been no different, losing just four wickets in their opening three matches to top Group A ahead of New Zealand, Sri Lanka and debutants Japan.
From there they have not stopped, comprehensively beating three-time champions Australia in the Super League Quarter-Finals before chasing down 173 without losing a wicket against rivals Pakistan.
With four scores of 50 or more in his five games, Yashasvi Jaiswal’s 312 runs see him top of the charts ahead of the final – needing 38 more to score the second-most runs by an Indian in a single U19 Cricket World Cup, behind Shikhar Dhawan.
His side have impressed with the ball as well, with Ravi Bishnoi needing four more scalps to finish atop the wicket-taking charts for South Africa 2020.
“Being in the final means a lot to us, we had ten practice games before the tournament got started and got used to the conditions and pitches around the country,” said Garg.
“It will be a good game for everyone, the team bonding and spirit is really good, the backroom staff have helped us through that journey and we’re looking forward to it.
“We’ve had a good experience all over South Africa, there has been great organisation and the BCCI have really supported us.”
Bangladesh have never played in an ICC U19 Cricket World Cup final but they are far from making up the numbers in Potchefstroom.
Their group stage started in scintillating fashion, overcoming Zimbabwe and Scotland by nine wickets (DLS) and seven wickets respectively to secure their place in the Super League.
The Tigers’ Group C decider against Pakistan was unfortunately washed out but their impressive start to the competition saw them finish as group winners.
Since then they haven’t looked back, comprehensively beating hosts South Africa in the Super League Quarter-Final before getting the better of New Zealand in the last four.
Mahmudul Hasan Joy’s 100 was the key in their successful chase of 212, but their batting so far has been a shared effort without overreliance on any key players.
The bowling performances have equally been picked up throughout the team but few displays quite matched that of Rakibul Hasan, whose five for 19 helped Bangladesh beat South Africa to take their place in the Semi-Final.
“It’s a great feeling for us to reach the final, the boys are really excited and hopefully we will play our best cricket in this match,” said captain Akbar Ali.
“The tournament has been fantastic, we are playing on different surfaces in different conditions and we’ve already learnt a lot from this experience. Hopefully this can help push us on the senior level.
“We are really enjoying this moment. We’ve enjoyed having the support from back home and we’d really like that again for the final against India.”
The Match Officials for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Final have also been announced with Graeme Labrooy as Match Refereee. Sam Nogajski and Adrian Holdstock standing as on-field umpires, Ravindra Wimalasiri as TV umpire and Patrick Bongani Jele as fourth.
Pakistan finish third after washout
The 3rd Place Play-Off between Pakistan and New Zealand was abandoned without a ball being bowled at Willowmoore Park, Benoni.
Persistent rain prevented any chance of play on the penultimate day of the of the tournament, with the umpires having no option but to call the match off after a 10:45am discussion with the respective team coaches.
As a result, the sub-continent side finished third with a superior ranking on the points table from the group stage.
Both sides had qualified second from their respective groups, with New Zealand finishing behind India after one win, one loss and one abandoned game in Group A.
That gave them three points with the opening stage, two fewer than Pakistan – who won their games against Zimbabwe and Scotland before rain washed out their final Group C match against Bangladesh.
“It’s unfortunate that the game ended as a washout. We were confident of doing well and securing the third spot on the field,” said Pakistan captain Rohail Nazir. “The weather is not in our control as it wasn’t when we had dominated Bangladesh in the group game.
“We had a very good tournament other than the semi-final loss. That defeat has given us some real lessons that will greatly help us in our careers ahead. I’m proud of the way the boys fought and I want to thank the entire management led by the head coach Ijaz Ahmed for their support and guidance throughout.
“The future is bright for this bunch of boys and I wish them the very best in the days ahead. I also would like to thank the ICC for a very well organised event, the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is the pinnacle age-group event, and may it continue to grow from strength to strength.”