The bowlers were sending them down at pace, beating the bat and running up to the batsman. A glare followed by some choice words. The batsmen could only look back. This sequence was repeated multiple times and it may have surprised some viewers that the bowlers were Bangladeshi and the batsmen Indian.
Such was the controlled aggression displayed by Bangladesh Under-19 pace duo Shoriful Islam and Tanzim Hasan Sakib at the start of the ICC Under-19 World Cup final in Potchefstroom yesterday. It was in stark contrast to most India-Bangladesh contests seen before, and that intensity set the stage for a true reversal of the trend of close defeats against India, culminating in the young Tigers winning the country its first World Cup at any level. The aggression led to Divyaansh Saxena falling for just two in the seventh over off the bowling of first-change bowler Avishek Das. India held back and bided their time with Yashashvi Jaisawal and Tilak Varma starring in a patient 94-run partnership for the second wicket.
Sakib then brought along the dismissal that the young Tigers were craving for when he dismissed Varma for 38 and Rakibul Hasan then provided another breakthrough when Priyam Garg chipped one straight to the fielder at mid-off. The early pressure had paid off and Shoriful came back for a later spell. In the 40th over, Shoriful brought out a tame pull shot from Jaiswal – the highest scorer of the event – for 88 with Tanzid taking an easy catch at mid-off. Shoriful put his finger on his lips to shush the India batsman. Next ball, a razor-sharp delivery with a hint of reverse swing, then rapped left-hander Siddesh Veer on the pads, trapping him leg-before. India went from 156 for three to 177 all out.
Bangladesh started their chase with a fifty-run partnership between openers Tanzid Hasan and Parvez Hossain Emon before the former departed to leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi. The leggie was the one who would go on to do the bulk of the damage for India U-19s as he left Bangladesh middle-order distraught with four wickets in quick succession.
Sushant Mishra then bagged two and Bangladesh were in disarray as Emon, who had gone off the field due to a hamstring injury, returned to partner captain Akbar Ali. The duo added 42 vital runs to the Bangladesh cause before Emon, struggling to run with an injury, departed for 47 to Jaisawal.
Akbar’s cool head however survived the pressure situation as the skipper, along with Rakibul, took Bangladesh close to the target inch by inch. Rain forced players of with 15 needed off 54 balls. DLS’s par score came into the equation after a short break and a revised target of seven from 30 was set. Rakibul hit Mishra for four in the 41st over before he hit the winning single off Antolekar in the next over to take Tigers to what will be a forever-cherished victory.