#India, #Australia, #Under19
IBNS-CMEDIA: Australia captain Hugh Weibgen wants his side to embrace the challenge of facing reigning champions India when the two teams meet in the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Final on Sunday.
The Aussies booked their place in the tournament decider with a thrilling one-wicket triumph over a gallant Pakistan in Benoni on Thursday and now have two days off to prepare for the clash against the five-time winners of the Under 19 World Cup.
It will be the third ICC event on the trot that Australia and India have met in the final, after the two rivals played out thrilling encounters in the ICC World Test Championship Final and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Final last year.
And while Weibgen knows defeating India will prove a tough ask for his side, the Australia captain believes his team is full of character and will be ready for the stiff challenge.
“India are a class team, they’ll come out and compete hard – we’ll love that challenge, we’ll love that fight and we are looking forward to it,” Weibgen said.
Australia have won three Under 19 World Cup titles with their most recent success coming back in 2010, when a young Mitch Marsh-led side clinched a 25-run victory over Pakistan in the final in New Zealand.
Weibgen will be hoping for another strong effort from his fast bowlers if they are to emulate that team from 2010 and will be hoping semifinal hero Tom Straker can back up his efforts against Pakistan in the final against India.
Straker ripped through the Pakistan top-order with a superb spell that netted 6/24 – breaking the previous record of 6/25 set by South Africa powerhouse Kagiso Rabada for the best figures by a bowler in a semifinal or final at the event – as the Aussies restricted their opponents to a below-par score of 179.
Australia looked to be cruising to victory when Harry Dixon (50) and Ollie Peake (49) had the chase well placed at 102/4, but Pakistan’s bevy of quality quicks took wickets in quick succession to gain the ascendancy as 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, as Australia clinched a 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 happened, but it was awesome.”
Pakistan captain Saad Baig was proud of the efforts of his players and was left to lament his side 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.”