India reached the under 19 World Cup final yesterday with a win over New Zealand. For the first time they were chasing a target in excess of 150 and almost made a hash of it. Cruising at a 150 odd for 3 they suddenly lost 4 wickets before a few bold hits settled the issue. I have been watching a few of the games off and on and here are some positives from the way the team has played.
- The batting looks very solid. Batsmen have a good technique and they are also not averse to walking down the pitch and taking a shot at regular intervels. They seem to be very much in tune with modern methods of batsmanship.
- The fielding is a revelation. The cricketers are really fit, agile and athletic. There was one particluar pickup and run out attempt by Tanmay Srivastav that just blew me away.
- The bowling looks ok. Sangwan continues the tradition of Indian swing bowling and is a real threat when he can get the ball to move. Sidharth Kaul and Ajitesh Argal are extremely accurate and do not give much away. I am not too impressed with Ravindra Jadeja. At this level he is a very good spinner and opponents do not have much experience tackling quality spin. But he looks more like a conventional left arm spinner from Western India in the Nadkarni/Shastri mould who is flatter and quicker through the air rather than the Bedi/Maninder mould of North India.
- All round skills seem to be the focus for most of the cricketers. Virat Kohli, the captain, bowled a splendid spell of “poi” (deceipt) bowling as they call it here in Chennai cricket circles. You generally vary the pace and deceive the batsman. His slow leg cutter resembles Chris Harris and he is very accurate. Similarly Tanmay Srivastav bowls off spin and can keep the batsmen guessing.This is just the kind of additional bowling skills that will help these batsmen in the modern game. I did not see much about the batting capabilities of the bowlers but a few lusty blows by Sangwan at the end of yesterday’s game gives me hope that the next generation may not bat like Munaf Patel!
- The wicket keeper Srivats Goswami also was impressive with an excellent stumping and consistent batting performances at the top of the order.
- The batsmen also perform well under pressure. Last year in a triangular final chasing 200 odd, Saurabh Tiwary and Manish Pandey added 140 plus after India were 50 for 4 to win the match. I saw 3 boundaries by Pandey yesterday and he just oozes class!
- In the reserves there is still the local boy Abhinav Mukund who sadly has not yet got a game. But I have seen him bat when he made 2 hundreds for TN in the Ranji Trophy including one on debut and he has an excellent temperament.
Now coming to the blot on the performance. Yesterday Corey anderson the New Zealander hit a fine knock to get his team to 200. Ultimately he was bowled by Tanmay. But it was very sad to see Tanmay imitating Ishanth Sharma and signalling the batsman to walk to the pavilion. The sad part was that there was hardly any provocation from the batsman a la Symonds. Afterall he had played a great knock and deserved a “well played” rather than that disgraceful gesture Tanmay is one of the stars in this team and this kind of behaviour does not augur well for the future. Of coruse the umpire Hartley immediately called Tanmay and let him know that this was not on. But I really think India should worry more about cricketing skills and instill those in the youngsters and ‘weed’ out such unnecessary and unwarranted gestures and actions.