England v India, U-19 World Cup quarter-final, Dubai February 22, 2014

Fancied India disappoint on big stage


The cruel reality of the knockout scenario is that one bad day or session can consign all the hard work and success earned in the lead-up to the nearest bin. India Under-19s came into the World Cup as the most successful junior side in the world, winning all four series played since the current unit was moulded last year, thereby building on the 2012 squad's success.

India had the firepower to defend their title and were primed to enter the final four after winning their three group games. A quarter-final choke, though, meant that the best India can achieve in this tournament is fifth place. Given the weight of expectations on this team, from the public and themselves, it's a step down.

The disappointment was apparent on captain Vijay Zol's face as he trudged up the stairs to the media room after the presentation ceremony. Zol's experienced a World Cup triumph before, as has his team-mate Akhil Herwadkar, but the rest haven't. Those who have age on their side, like Sarfaraz Khan, might have a second shot in two years' time. But players like Zol and Sarfaraz, who live and breathe cricket, having sacrificed a regular school life to further their game, this defeat must be particularly gutting.

The pressure and intensity was evident with the way Aamir Gani gave Ed Barnard a mouthful when he dismissed him when India were desperate for a wicket. Even the normally cool and collected Zol was fired up after he took the catch to get rid of Ben Duckett when he took the game away from India.

Zol had barely had time to gather his thoughts when he took questions. Having made a strong recovery to reach 221 after being 24 for 4, Zol said a few more runs would have made the difference.

Despite India's top order not clicking consistently in the tournament, Zol made a brave decision to bat first under overcast conditions. The England seamers got the batsmen edging behind the wicket and not for the first time in the tournament, the lower order had to clean up the mess. Zol too played an important part in the recovery, as well as Deepak Hooda who scored 68.

"I completely back my decision (at the toss) and my team backed me," Zol said. "Yes, there were a few quite weird dismissals. [Matthew] Fisher deserves credit for taking three wickets and we were in a bit of panic. I think that was the difference.

"When I and Hooda started batting, the wicket settled down and it started coming on to the bat better as compared to early in the morning. It was a matter of eight to ten overs, but they bowled well."

India made a tactical change with Hooda and Sarfaraz swapping places in the batting order. Sarfaraz had fashioned two recoveries at No. 6, including one with Hooda when India were in danger of imploding against Scotland. Against England, Hooda showed he could occupy the crease in a pressure scenario, top scoring with 68. Sarfaraz still had 17 overs to bat and he found time to smash an unbeaten 52 off 46 balls.

"Hooda can take his own time, Sarfaraz can go for his shots immediately," Zol said, explaining the change. "He can hit from the first ball and he was in good nick. So, we backed Hooda to spend some quality time when the seamers were doing their job."

During England's chase, it was game on when England were at 41 for 3 but Ben Duckett's handling of India's spinners brought England back into the game. Zol said that Duckett's reverse sweeps were the difference.

"They played really well, as per the situation demanded," Zol said. "He came up with his reverse sweep, which our bowlers found it difficult to contain. I think it was a tough period for us."

England opted for the batting Powerplay in the 19th over, breaking from the trend of taking it after 35 overs. England scored 30 without losing a wicket and Zol defended his decision to bowl his two main spinners in tandem in that period, instead of the seamers.

"We were prepared for it when they took it (the Powerplay)," Zol said. "In every match till now, I have bowled my main spinners in the Powerplays."

Reflecting over the last two years, Zol said the batsmen had gained the most in the being exposed to different bowlers in different conditions, though the top order didn't live up to its billing in the UAE, where the conditions aren't very alien to those back home.

It will be an emotional parting of ways for this unit which over the last few months had begun to savour each other's success, a point repeatedly made by Zol and the coach B Arun. The support staff had been working on building an all-inclusive atmosphere to make sure no one feels isolated. Arun said one-on-one interactions are encouraged when a player feels low.

India now have two more games to play in the playoffs, starting with the fifth place playoff semi-finals against Sri Lanka on Monday. They did well to stretch England and the fight shown reflected the character of the side. It was a fact acknowledged by the captain himself.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on February 23, 2014, 21:59 GMT

    Very poor decision by Zol to bat first in such conditions, knowing the usual indian weaknesses against pace under overcast conditions! Sad end to a good campaign, even though the lower order had to bail the top order time and again in this tournament. Perhaps time for a change of leadership at this level? Good luck to England in the semis.

  • Jayaesh on February 23, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    @ InsideHedge , well it's true many don't graduate to the highest level but most barring some exceptions go on to become regular for there state sides at FC level and earn decent money along the way , some have become IPL regulars and in process earned name and fame, but these u-19 players not given a break at right time for there state sides is an issue, if you take a look at squad compositions of most Ranji sides is filled with journeyman cricketers who have nothing to offer except enjoying cosy relationship with state association bosses and they block the path of deserving youngsters.I was amazed to see Kuldeep Yadav who everybody is raving about has not played a single FC match for UP !!! mighty Piyush Chawla plays instead... also surprised to see no IPL franchisee pick Sarfaraz Khan or Monu Kumar Jharkhand seamer with a lovely skiddy action and reaching speeds in excess of late 130's.

  • Yasser on February 23, 2014, 12:06 GMT

    It would be ideal to see the "big three" out of the tournament.

  • ramachandra on February 23, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    India should not have been 'fancied' with this team. Senju Samson was the only decent player before the start and only Sarfraz Khan has been added to it. Vijay Zol has a big technical failure of that right foot going across.

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    Zol is responsible for the loss. before 2nd last over, hooda conceded 48 runs from 9 overs with lots of fulltos bowling. 49th over should have been given to monukumar or even surfraaz khan. Captain didn't use the fast bowlers properly.

  • Ocean on February 23, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    India out. Happy to see their backs. Good riddance!

  • karthik on February 23, 2014, 4:15 GMT

    Title is wrong. No one fancies India outside subcontinent. Result was expected. I do not know why Indian selectors lack the fundamentals. None of the Batsman show any footwork against the moving ball. How can you expect to win matches in conditions where this a little on offer for fast bowlers. Those openers "Akhil" and "Bains" will never become openers in any other country. Hardly any foot movement. I have been seeing this idiotic nonsense being spouted by journalists over and over again. Do not select people who can only play in India. Any one who has the basics right can be much more successful than one who has a lot of talent and no basics.Life is simple. Stick to the fundamentals. India unfortunately not only in cricket but all aspects of life have no basics. They will take all the shortcuts possible but forget the basics. You first need to be an athlete and then stick to fundamentals to succeed in sports. India unfortunately are flops at this. Akhil is fat and has no footwork.

  • saad on February 23, 2014, 4:12 GMT

    India's top order struggled to click throughout the tournament, a non-recovery was bound to happen. The English lads successfully managed to stay on top of the situation throughout the match. Good on England! Indian fellows (the senior and the junior team) seem to have trouble overcoming mental blocks when playing outside of India.

    Hope to have some good matches televised from here onwards!

  • Sanjay on February 23, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    "Yeah, Pak in and Indi out...." goes the relieved cries from many a Pak fan. Proof how much they feared India. Already defeated by India in this tournament (as per script), Pak had better watch out for complacency.

    Stranger things have happened.

  • Sanjay on February 23, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    @Yasser_Chaudhri: Nope, ESPN is continuing to cover the matches and broadcast here on CricInfo.

    Those who were complaining that their favourite team wasn't being shown should write to their national broadcasters esp those based in the Middle East. What stopped them showing the Pak games, for instance? Only themselves.

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