They were the overwhelming favourites heading into the contest with all odds stacked against the Bangladesh side. India had won every game en route to the final, dismissed each of their opponent en route to the final and the boys backed themselves when either department failed to withstand pressure. But one off day, which unfortunately happened on the day of the final, and India U19 team lost the biggest match their career so far. But what truly went wrong these boys...
An undercooked middle-order...
It seems India just can't get enough of middle-order issues, first the senior team, and now the juniors, both of which played a pivotal role in their respective World Cup contests.
Heading into the U19 World Cup, India had a strong middle-order combination in Tilak Varma, Siddhesh Veer and Dhruv Jurel, who unlike the senior team, had come strong on quite a few occasions to weather the storm after a top-order collapse. But during the World Cup campaign in South Africa, the formidable opening pair of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Divyansh Saxena shielded the middle-order lineup leaving it unprepared for crucial situations. In the group stages, India had a target of 42 against Japan, managed a 10-wicket win against New Zealand, but required the middle-order support in the game against Sri Lanka, and they came up with quickfire runs.
It was in the knockout round when the problem was first noticed, against Australia in the quarterfinal. After India were reduced to 44 for two in the 13th over, the middle order managed only 45 runs before Atharva Ankolekar provided a gritty 55 at No.7 alongside Jaiswal to take the team to a respectable 233. India then comfortably cruised past Pakistan with a 10-wicket win, but the problem came haunting back in the finale. India managed only 21 runs while losing their final seven wickets in just 42 deliveries to be restricted to 177 with 18 balls in hand despite Jaiswal's 88.
"[Being bowled out with 18 balls in hand] is also a factor, but the way we started, our middle-order should have finished it off," Priyam Garg admitted. "The way Jaiswal and Saxena started according to the wicket, it was good. And then Tilak [Varma]. But then we failed to capitalise, our middle-order couldn't consolidate despite a good base."
Way too many extras...
"19 wides. 2 no-balls. 4 byes. That’s while defending 177. Hope it doesn’t come back to haunt India in the end." - Aakash Chopra had tweeted when Bangladesh were looking towards a miraculous escape after going seven down.
Barring Ravi Bishnoi and Jaiswal (who only bowled three overs) all other bowlers delivered at least five wide deliveries. To be precise, Bangladesh earned 19.41 per cent of their runs in the final owing to the extras, which included the four leg-byes.
"We could have done better, but the ball went wide due to our plans. The ball was swinging a lot. In terms of planning, we wanted to exploit certain areas. In that sense, we did concede a few extras but we still bowled well. Can't blame the bowlers - felt they bowled well today," Garg said.
After a promising start in the run chase, Bangladesh were rattled by the Bishnoi's deceptive first spell as he single-handedly reduced the opponents 65 for four st the start of the 17th over. The top-order had collapsed, opener Parvez Emon was retired hurt and the wobbly middle-order was exposed with Akbar Ali, who hadn't been effective with the bat throughout the campaign, standing as Bangladesh's last hope. The whole morale of the team was down, hence India had to keep Bangladesh under pressure, maintain that aggressive fielding position and keep Bishnoi in the attack.
But Garg first spread out his field, while Bishnoi was in attack and Akbar managed two back-to-back fours against the leggie. He then removed the leg-spinner from the attack after the 22nd over and brought him back after the 28th over. In that gap of six overs, Bangladesh capitalised on Bishnoi's absence to strike at 5.71 runs per over against the pacers and left-arm spinner Atharva Ankolekar.
This small error also gave Bangladesh sneak ahead in the DLS par score by 18 runs when the rain had interrupted the proceedings towards the fag end, however, they were hanging on the edge at the time of Bishnoi's presence.