Under-19 World Cup Review

Nepal come to the party, but the fans don't

As India and Pakistan take on each other in the Under-19 World Cup final, Andrew McGlashan takes a look back over the last two weeks

Andrew McGlashan in Colombo

February 19, 2006

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As India and Pakistan take on each other in the Under-19 World Cup final, Andrew McGlashan takes a look back over the last two weeks of action and picks out some the defining moments and key performances



Nepal produced two shock upsets and nabbed the Plate final © ICC
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High Point - Nepal on a Plate
It took 38 matches for the first upset in the tournament, then two came along in a rush - and both from one team. Nepal had always seemed the likeliest side to cause a shock; they had an experienced team and a coach, Roy Dias, who knew Sri Lankan conditions inside out. However, the manner of their wins was what brought the competition to life. South Africa needed 16 off two overs with six wickets in hand, but Nepal's bowlers held their nerve. If that was impressive enough, the Plate final was incredible. At 75 for 6, chasing 205, most people thought the game was up - except the ones who mattered, Nepal. Basanta Regmi played the game of his life, scoring 66 and taking three wickets, as they squeezed home with two balls and one wicket left. The wild scenes of celebration were a joy to watch - as was the dancing in the hotel that evening.

Low Point - The crowds (or lack of)
It was always going to be hard to live up to the sell-out crowds from Bangladesh two years ago, but surely some people would want to watch in a cricket-mad country. Apparently not, as day after day stadiums were virtually empty with often just players' families turning up. Even for Sri Lanka's matches the stadiums were ghostly despite free tickets for all 44 games. The national team being in Australia and the India-Pakistan series probably didn't help, taking the focus away from the Under-19s, but most likely this was an example of what happens when so much cricket, of various levels, is played around the world.

Best Innings - Cheteshwar Pujara, 129* v England
Pujara was overshadowed coming into the tournament by his big-hitting opener partner, Gaurav Dhiman, but his innings in the quarter-final was a fine example of building a one-day score. While Dhiman flayed away Pujara was happy to play second fiddle, then he took control in the middle overs before finding a second wind to produce a stunning late charge. In many ways it was a complete innings and no fluke, either, as his 349 tournament runs (before the final) showed.



Cheteshwar Pujara scampers a single on his way to an unbeaten 129 © ICC
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Best bowling spell - Moises Henriques, 4 for 22 v Sri Lanka
Not statistically the most dramatic spell, that honour goes to Niall McDarby of Ireland who almost embarrassed England with 6 for 50, but Henriques' spell in the quarter-final was an outstanding display of accurate and incisive fast bowling. He struck with the new ball to put the skids under Sri Lanka then returned to mop up the tail. He produced unplayable off- and leg-cutters, while his bouncer was rapid and on-target.

Catch of the tournament - Graeme White, England v Nepal, Group D
The match was secure for England after being made to work hard by Nepal, but what a way to finish. White, running backwards from midwicket, turned, dived, and flung out his right hand to remove Abhaya Rana. It was a stunning piece of agility and timing.

Leading from the front - The captains
The captains certainly led by example. Henriques showed himself as a mature leader as well as an outstanding allrounder, while Ravikant Shukla led India with a calm authority and Sarfraz Ahmed was quiet but confident. Moeen Ali earned the respect of his team-mates and spoke honestly after his side were humbled for 58 in the semi-final and Dean Elgar kept his head held high through South Africa's trial and tribulations. From the associate counties, Eoin Morgan could not have done more with the bat for Ireland, while Kanishka Chaugai gave Nepal some flying starts, showing his class and range of strokes.

Surprise package - England
They came into the tournament having lost 11 straight matches on their tour of Bangladesh and returned to the sub continent with some serious questions hanging over their heads. A new captain had to turn things around and a warm-up win against India boosted confidence. However, they were unconvincing against Nepal and Ireland (who should have sprung a major upset) and lost to Zimbabwe. A quarter-final against their recent nemesis, Bangladesh, was a massive test. They passed it with flying colours, but perhaps it meant a bit too much. They capitulated to India, but two months ago a World Cup semi-final was just a dream.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.

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