Australia Gears Up for India Challenge in U19 Cricket World Cup Final
Australian U19 team captain, Hugh Weibgen, is encouraging his team to embrace the challenge of facing the current champions, India, in the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Final this Sunday.
Securing their spot in the tournament decider, Australia won a nail-biting one-wicket victory over a resilient Pakistan team in Benoni last Thursday. The team now has two days to prepare for the clash against India, the five-time winners of the U19 World Cup.
Australia has made it to the U19 CWC 2024 finals!
This will be the third consecutive ICC event where Australia and India have met in the final, following thrilling encounters in the ICC World Test Championship Final and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Final last year.
Weibgen acknowledges that defeating India will be a tough task for his team. However, he believes his team, full of character, is ready for the challenge. “India are a class team, they’ll come out and compete really hard – we’ll love that challenge, we’ll love that fight and we are really looking forward to it,” Weibgen said.
India won a thrilling chase by two wickets.
Australia has won three U19 World Cup titles, with their most recent victory in 2010, when a young Mitch Marsh-led team clinched a 25-run victory over Pakistan in the final in New Zealand.
Weibgen is hoping for another strong performance from his fast bowlers, emulating the 2010 team, and is counting on semi-final hero Tom Straker to repeat his performance against Pakistan in the final against India.
Straker delivered a superb spell against Pakistan, taking 6/24, breaking the previous record of 6/25 set by South African powerhouse Kagiso Rabada for the best figures by a bowler in a semi-final or final at the event. This helped the Aussies restrict their opponents to a below-par score of 179.
Tom Straker’s figures were the best in any U19 CWC semi-finals or finals.
Australia seemed to be cruising to victory when Harry Dixon (50) and Ollie Peake (49) had the chase well placed at 102/4. However, Pakistan’s quality quicks took wickets in quick succession, gaining the upper hand. It was left to Raf MacMillan and Callum Vidler to finish the job.
MacMillan held his nerve to hit a boundary from the first ball of the final over, securing Australia’s spot in the final at Pakistan’s expense.
“We had full faith in Vids (Vidler) and Raf to get the job done,” Weibgen admitted. “There was quite a bit of emotion in the dressing room. I was quite tense and excited too. I still don’t know what really happened, but it was awesome.”
Pakistan captain Saad Baig was proud of his team’s efforts, despite being bowled out in the penultimate over and finishing with a below-par score. “I think we were short of 10-20 runs, but we put our 100 percent effort,” Baig said. “We played well, we fought well but Australia played very well. Our boys throughout the tournament were brilliant (and) our bowling was quite well in the tournament.”