Raj Bawa became the first Indian cricketer to win a fifer in an ICC tournament final when he finished Saturday with figures of 5/31 in the U19 World Cup final against England in North Sound, Antigua. Bawa paired up with Ravi Kumar, who went on to take 4/34, to knock out England for 189 in the top clash. Bawa also became the first player since Pakistani Anwar Ali in 2006 to take a five-wicket haul in an ICC U19 World Cup final. In Saturday’s final, the exploits of Bawa and Ravi helped bring England back to 61/6 and later 91/7 at one point. However, James Rew scored a fighting knockout of 95 to keep England in the game, taking them to a total of 189.
Deadly throwing off his mediocre paces, Raj Bawa (5/31) ran through the English mid-range after in-of-left-arm sailor Ravi Kumar (4/34) put their opponents low with two early blows.
India continued to take wickets at regular intervals, but not once did the team’s intensity drop.
But Rew and James Sales (34 not out) defied India with their 93-run eight-wicket score.
Yash Dhull-led India skipped already in the second when Ravi sent back the dangerous Jacob Bethell (2) cheaply. The Bengal man shot one in and then got him to hold his line as Bethell missed him completely after he played over the line.
The early blow had no impact on George Thomas as he crushed Rajvardhan Hangargekar for 14 runs, including two fours and a six over deep midwicket, into the next over.
However, Ravi struck again, this time by bowling out English skipper Tom Perst, who dragged the ball to his stumps, leaving the Indians on top at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Having won a good toss before, Perst had failed to execute his pull shot, thanks to a bottom edge, and walked back dejectedly with his team in a tricky sport at 18 for two in the fourth over.
Ravi had 2/2 in the first two overs.
Despite the situation where his team found themselves early in the grand final, Thomas kept attacking and grabbed two limits against Ravi.
With Hangargekar making 19 runs in his first period, India skipper Yash Dhull made a bowling change and it worked almost immediately, but Kaushal Tamble couldn’t hold on to Thomas’ thick edge of Raj Bawa in the slip.
England needed a partnership at the time, but it wouldn’t be. Medium pacer Bawa got the well-tempered Thomas to play an irresponsible shot that got a thick outer rim and landed in Dhull’s hands at cover.
In all sorts of trouble at 37 to three at the start of the 11th left, England’s desperate quest for partnership went unanswered, with William Luxton trailing Bawa before England could reach 50 runs.
Bawa made a hat-trick when George Bell had no response on an excellent throw that came up and took a deflection towards wicketkeeper Dinesh Bana.
With half the squad back in the locker room in the 13th, the England U-19 stared at a heavy defeat, their dreams of winning a first world title in 24 years quickly evaporated.
There was no end to England’s woes as Rehan Ahmed Bawa plucked at Tambe in the first slip to stagger the side with 61 to six in the 17th over.
With a clean line and length, India kept up the pressure on England and it paid off when wicketkeeper Alex Horton, trying to hoist off-spinner Tambe over midwicket, finally gave a simple catch to Dhull.
England were still seven runs short of reaching 100 at the time, but they got on quickly as James Rew hit his 50 in 79 balls.
Joined by the James Sales, he extended the English innings and gave his side something to defend.
(with PTI inputs)
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