The first-ever ICC U19 T20 World Cup final between India and England will take place on Sunday, January 29 in Potchefstroom, bringing an exciting first edition of the competition to a close. The event has produced a fitting conclusion between two evenly matched sides after a historic month in the Rainbow Nation, which saw rising nations take their seats at cricket’s newest top table.
Both will be fully aware that a big piece of history now beckons for the squad that can give one more memorable performance on Sunday, despite the divergent roads they travelled in their separate semi-finals.
In the first semi-final, India destroyed New Zealand by eight wickets thanks to some outstanding fielding from Parshavi Chopra, wickets for the explosive Shweta Sehrawat at the top of the order, and possibly their most clinical game.
With three victories in as many games, India, under the leadership of Shafali Verma, finished the league stage atop the Group D standings. The list includes victories over the hosts South Africa, Scotland, and the United Arab Emirates. Australia was their sole opponent when they lost in the super-six round. But they recovered with a victory over Sri Lanka. In the semi-final match, the Women in Blue destroyed New Zealand.
India beat SA by seven wickets to kick off their campaign. They defeated Scotland and UAE by 83 and 122 runs, respectively. The team’s humbling seven-wicket loss to Australia opened the super-six round. Nevertheless, they crushed SL by seven wickets to move to the semi-finals. Shafali’s team defeated New Zealand by an eight-wicket margin in the semi-final match.
In a second semi-final that was on the brink of collapse, England had to muster all their resolve to defeat Australia, winning by three crucial runs in the end. In the middle of intolerable anxiety, captain Grace Scrivens took the final Australian wicket and had the ultimate say.
Although England’s batters had put on their least impressive performance of the competition, this is a well-trained team in all areas. England has only given up more than 100 goals once throughout this World Cup, and it was 103 against Pakistan.
There is enough diversity to challenge India’s top order, and they are miserly and measured when necessary. Richa Ghosh, a strong competitor who has been waiting to completely express herself in this competition, will be well aware that England fully expects her to do so in the championship match.
When she leads England in Sunday’s U19 World Cup final against India, England captain Grace Scrivens will be looking to make it three first-time triumphs for the women’s squad.
The first Women’s World Cup was won by England in 1973 under the direction of Rachael Heyhoe Flint. In the inaugural Women’s T20 World Cup in 2009, England was led to victory by Charlotte Edwards.
Now, history is about to repeat itself in the inaugural Women’s U19 T20 World Cup, as India and unbeaten England square off in Potchefstroom. Given that the surface has been taking more and more turns as the competition has progressed, both sides have a strong spin to draw upon. In the semi-finals, Hannah Baker continued her winning ways by eliminating three opponents to put pressure on Australia.
For India, Mannat Kashyap and Parshavi Chopra have been equally captivating, thus the race may come down to whoever pair of slow bowlers settles into their work the best. It is a moment that begs for one person to make their mark and bring their nation the first-ever ICC Under-19 T20 World Cup title.