Tuesday, January 25, 2022

CWI: ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup – The story so far (2010-2020)

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Cricket West Indies (CWI) will host the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup from January 14 to February 5, 2022. The 14th edition of the premier age-group event will feature 16 teams in four groups with matches to be played in Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, and Guyana. In the build-up to the tournament, we will share several feature articles.

From 2010 onwards, a trend developed at the ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup as two sides dominated. Between them, India and Australia claimed three of the six titles, while finishing as losing finalists four times between them. Pakistan were the only other team to make it to more than one final in the decade, twice coming up short in the big game, but there were also some new names on the trophy as South Africa, the West Indies and Bangladesh all won the title for the first time.

2010: Having won two of the first four ICC U19 Men’s CWCs, Australia then went six years without reaching the final until the event in New Zealand. Spearheaded by the likes of Mitchell Marsh and Josh Hazlewood, they knocked out the hosts in the quarter-finals, Sri Lanka in the semis, and then Hazlewood’s four for 30 saw them to a 25-run win over Pakistan in the final. South Africa’s Dominic Hendricks was the star of the tournament, however, racking up 391 runs in just six innings at an average just a shade under 100 for a side that finished fifth, losing only to Sri Lanka at the quarter-final stage. England also went out at the quarter-final stage, despite a team featuring Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.

2012: Two years on from lifting the trophy for a third time, Australia hosted a second tournament, getting all the way to the final before falling to India. India did not do it the easy way, scraping past a Pakistan side captained by Babar Azam by one wicket in the quarter-final as Harmeet Singh and Sandeep Sharma saw them home before the same duo helped set up a nine-run win over New Zealand in the semi-final. They then powered to a six-wicket win over Australia in the final, skipper Unmukt Chand making an unbeaten 111 to get the better of the hosts despite Will Bosisto’s 87 not out. Bosisto finished the tournament with 276 runs and was dismissed just once. Among others to shine were Bangladesh’s Anamul Haque who topped the run charts with 365, while Reece Topley was the top wicket-taker with 19 at an average of 9.10 for an England team that finished fifth.

2014: A new name appeared on the trophy in 2014 as South Africa emerged victorious in the UAE, led by captain and Player of the Series Aiden Markram. With 370 runs in six innings including a pair of centuries and an unbeaten 66 in the final, Markram was exceptional for a South Africa side that also featured Kagiso Rabada. They won every game emphatically, with Rabada’s six for 25 the pick of the performances in an 80-run win over Australia in the semi-final. Pakistan were their opponents in the final, with Imam-ul-Haq outstanding for them, but Rabada got him for 12 in the final and a total of 131 was never close to being enough. One of the highlights of the tournament was a magnificent 143 out of 208 by Nicholas Pooran for West Indies against Australia.

2016: South Africa went from champions to being knocked in the first round as the 2016 edition provided shocks aplenty, none more so than Namibia beating their neighbours in the group stage. New Zealand were the other team upset in the groups in Bangladesh, beaten by Nepal, to set up some intriguing quarter-finals. In the end it was the West Indies and India who made it to the final, with Shimron Hetmyer captaining the former to their first title. Along the way they knocked out hosts Bangladesh in the semi-finals, despite 60 from Mehedy Hasan Miraz, the Player of the Tournament, and it was fast bowler Alzarri Joseph who was the key man for the side from the Caribbean with 13 wickets.

2018: India claimed a fourth title in 2018 thanks in large part to a dominant top order. Captained by opener Prithvi Shaw and with Shubman Gill coming in at three, it is no surprise that India thrived in New Zealand. They won every game convincingly, Australia’s eight-wicket defeat in the final as close as anyone came to troubling them. Gill was the star, with 372 runs, while Shaw made 264 and his opening partner Manjot Kalra joined the party with an unbeaten 101 in the final. As well as the Indian batters, this tournament also saw the emergence of Shaheen Shah Afridi, who took 12 wickets in just five matches for Pakistan, while Afghanistan produced their best result in an ICC U19 Men’s CWC as they got to the semi-finals before losing to Australia.

2020: The last edition of the ICC U19 Men’s CWC saw another team win the title for the first time as Bangladesh got the better of India in the final. Shoriful Islam, who has since received full international honours, and 2022 skipper Rakibul Hasan starred with the ball for Bangladesh as they knocked off South Africa and then New Zealand to reach the final. They faced an India team who had won every game with opener Yashasvi Jaiswal outstanding throughout. He top-scored for India in every game on his way to 400 runs and the Player of the Tournament award, but his 88 in the final was not enough in a three-wicket loss for the four-time champions. Others to shine were Indian spinner Ravi Bishnoi who took 17 wickets including four in the final to finish as the top wicket-taker, while Jayden Seales, who has since gone onto star at Test level for the West Indies, earned a spot in the Team of the Tournament for his fast bowling. The event also saw Japan and Nigeria make their debuts in their first ICC World Cups.

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