Defending champions and four-time title winners India will face new World Cup finalists Bangladesh in an all-Asian final at Potchefstroom in the all-important ICC Under-19 World Cup 2020 Final. Armed with strong line-ups, resilient captains and incredible form behind them, the two teams will fight it out one final time for the coveted trophy on Sunday.
More often than not, big matches are decided by the mini-battles within them and this World Cup final could be no different. There have been some mind-blowing individual performances from either camp this World Cup, but the head-to-head match-ups could hog more attention as the two teams clash.
Here we take a glance at five possible player battles to watch out for in the finals:
Yashasvi Jaiswal vs Rakibul Hasan
World Cup finals make heroes. Ask Adam Gilchrist. Or Aravinda de Silva. Or Ben Stokes. If ever there's one player that deserves a cult status after the current U19 World Cup, it is the Mumbai's Yashasvi Jaiswal, whose fabled rise from the streets to the national side is scarcely believable than those grandmother tales on a weekend night. With 312 runs at an average of 156 in the tournament including a hundred against arch-rivals Pakistan, Jaiswal stands atop of the run charts.
India will hope that he continues his rich vein of form for one more game in the tournament. Bangladesh, though, can have their hope up against Jaiswal. The left-hander has his worst average in youth ODIs against the Tigers - 32.8 in five matches – and has fallen prey to their best bowler in the World Cup – Rakibul Hasan - twice before.
The left-arm spinner has picked up 11 wickets in five matches at an average less than 10 in this tournament. He has also dismissed Jaiswal twice before, both coming in the tri-series in England last year. It's however worth mentioning that Jaiswal had made half-centuries on both occasions before Rakibul dismissed him. The battle between these two could be intense and might well define the U19 World Cup finals. Bangladesh will want to ensure that they do not waste too much time before throwing Rakibul at Jaiswal.
Mahmudul Hasan Joy vs Kartik Tyagi
38*, 35*, 0 and 3 were Mahmudul Hasan's returns in the U19 World Cup after the quarter-finals. A batsman who adores Shakib Al Hasan's flair and Rahul Dravid's defiance, Mahmudul knew he needed a big knock to stamp his name in world cricket when his side took New Zealand on in the semi-finals. A century and a Player of the Match showing ensured Bangladesh's place in the finals and established Mahmudul's status as a gritty cricketer capable of delivering under pressure.
The Bangladesh batsman is only one of two players in the under-19 circuit to register over a 1000 runs between the end of the last youth World Cup and the beginning of this tournament. The no. 3 batsman made exactly 1000 runs in this time frame at an average of 47.61 with three centuries, one of which came against India in England last year in the tri-series.
Coming into the semi-finals, Mahmudul had a series of low scores and turned it around with a stupendous showing against the Kiwis. His task, though, is cut out in the finals with India having a potent weapon in Kartik Tyagi to stop Mahmudul. Nine of Mahmudul's 24 dismissals at this level have come against right-arm pacers. This includes a wicket conceded to Tyagi in 2019 in England.
The Indian seamer has been the standout pace bowler of the tournament with 11 wickets in five matches. An ability to deliver crunching yorkers has made Tyagi a household name in just over two weeks and he has a chance to enhance that reputation on Sunday. Working over Bangladesh's no.3 batsman, a key figure in their batting plans, should be at the top of his agenda.
Towhid Hridoy vs Ravi Bishnoi
Like Mahmudul, Hridoy was a standout performer in the lead up to the World Cup with 1144 runs in 28 matches at an average of 60.21 including four hundreds and seven further scores above fifty. In four innings this World Cup, Hridoy hasn't quite his straps yet and averages 38 with just one half-century to his name.
India will want to get through Bangladesh's strong top-order, that includes Hridoy, early and their best bet at running through teams is the leggie Ravi Bishnoi. With 13 wickets in the tournament, Bishnoi is the fourth highest wicket-taker and has two four-wicket hauls in the World Cup so far. After rushing through a hapless Japan with a haul of four for five runs, Bishnoi snared another four-wicket haul against New Zealand.
His primary task on Sunday will be to keep the Bangladesh middle-order quiet and pick up some key wickets in those attritional middle-overs battles. The key player in Bangladesh's middle-order is Hridoy. The in-form batsman made scores of 51 and 40 in the two knockout games this World Cup – against South Africa in the quarter-finals and New Zealand in the semi-finals – and will be eying another good performance as his team takes on four-time youth title winners, India.
Hridoy was dismissed by spinners in two of his outings against India in this format but neither of those bowlers was Bishnoi. The leg-spinner will pose a different challenge to Bangladesh's ace batsman on Sunday.
Priyam Garg vs Shoriful Islam
Only two Indian batsmen have made over 100 runs in this World Cup so far. Flying under the radar has been the Uttar Pradesh-born Indian youth skipper, Priyam Garg. A flamboyant batsman, Garg has barely spent any time at the crease in this World Cup with Jaiswal and Divyansh Saxena doing the needful more often than not.
Cometh the final, if a situation presents itself, Garg is likely to be the first man to step up for the Indians. To prevent him from doing so, Bangladesh will have their strike bowler, Shoriful Islam, handy. In the period between the two World Cups (end of under-19 World Cup 2018 and beginning of the 2020 edition), Shoriful was the highest wicket-taker in the world in youth ODIs with 35 wickets at an average of 27.4.
The left-arm quick was also instrumental against India in this period, picking up hauls of 3/16, 0/42, 2/49, 3/43 and 1/42 in the five matches against them. These include the wickets of Jaiswal, Dhruv Jurel, Priyam Garg and Shubhang Hegde.
Garg has a stupendous record against Bangladesh and Shoriful will be tasked with containing India's skipper on Sunday. In the two matches Garg has played against the Tigers, he has made 100* and 73 with his only dismissal coming off Shoriful's bowling in Hove last year.
Divyansh Saxena vs Shamim Hossain
Alongside Yashasvi Jaiswal, Divyansh Saxena has held India's batting together this World Cup. The two left-handers put on an unbeaten stand of 176 in the semi-finals against Pakistan to take India to their seventh under-19 World Cup finals. Breaking this pair will be key to Bangladesh's success on Sunday and they might have to think a touch out of the box for the same.
Lefties struggling against off-spin is nothing new and it is here that Bangladesh might have a small, but significant opening. They have an all-rounder who bowls off-spin in Shamim Hossain. The off-spinner has bowled only 28 overs in this World Cup and has five wickets to show for it, but his most important six overs perhaps came in the all-important semi-finals against New Zealand.
Taking the new ball alongside Shoriful Islam, Shamim conceded just 31 runs and picked up the massive wickets of Rhys Mariu and Fergus Lellman. On Sunday, he could be used upfront yet again with India having two left-handers at the top.
Bangladesh will like the fact that five of Saxena's 13 dismissals in youth ODIs have come against spinners. Notably, the bowler to have most success against him is Hamidullah Qadri, the England under-19 off-spinner. If Bangladesh need to strangle India's second-fiddle at the top, Shamim will be an ideal weapon with the new ball. This battle, if it ensues, will be an eye-catching one to watch out for.
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