Unmukt Chand led India to World Cup glory at Tony Ireland Stadium, his unbeaten century ensuring his side saved its best batting performance for when it counted most, pulling off the highest successful chase at this venue to beat defending champions Australia in the final. Chand, who was ably supported by Baba Aparajith and Smit Patel, secured India's third Under-19 world title, after triumphs in 2000 and 2008.
Chand and Patel shared an unbroken 130-run stand for the fifth wicket, after India had slipped from 75 for 1 to 97 for 4. At no stage of the chase did they let the asking rate climb too much, and several huge hits on the home stretch ensured the target was achieved in the 48th over. Smit pulling Turner to the midwicket boundary was the signal for thirteen Indians to sprint to the middle, carrying flags and piling on to their heroes.
Chand's innings was the defining performance of the World Cup and he chose the perfect moment to produce it, outshining his worthy counterpart William Bosisto, whose 87 had dragged Australia from 38 for 4 towards a competitive score. Bosisto finished unbeaten for the fifth time in six innings, ending the tournament with an average of 276. He would have gladly swapped that for a more human figure, though, in return for not dropping Chand when India needed 49 off 41 balls.
India's manic celebrations at the finish indicated a release of tremendous pressure that had built up during the pursuit. They had lost Prashant Chopra early and, in Mark Steketee's second over, Chand was lucky to survive a close lbw shout. He was on 3 at the time. Like in the semi-final, Chand was a nervy starter, playing and missing and edging past his stumps. At the other end, however, Baba Aparajith began to play an array of exquisite drives on the off side, and Chand soon found his touch too.
When Gurinder Sandhu was brought into the attack in the ninth over, Chand attacked him right away, cutting in the air to the backward point boundary and lofting on the up for six over long-off. The 50 partnership came off 48 balls. Aparajith showed he could play the short ball too, controlling a hook off Steketee to the fine-leg boundary. India had been 11 for 1 after four overs. They were 60 for 1 after ten.
The Chand-Aparajith partnership had produced 73 when Aparajith was caught on the drive by Turner at extra cover, two balls after he had driven Sandhu for another sublime four. Turner made another quick breakthrough, catching Hanuma Vihari off his own bowling for 4. As Vijay Zol walked in, Chand went up to him, had a chat and patted him on the back, but he edged to Peirson for 1 off 14balls. India were suddenly 97 for 4. They would have been five down had Peirson held a tough chance off Chand in the 19th over, when he was on 38. Patel was let off by Peirson too, on 2, and he made Australia pay.
Patel was the cool partner that Chand needed and the two batsmen focused on keeping wickets in hand for the end game, finding the boundary occasionally but taking singles and two frequently. The asking rate touched six an over for the first time when there were 17 left; India needed 102 and they had the batting Powerplay to come. In the final over of fielding restrictions, Chand heaved Turner for perhaps the biggest six hit at Tony Ireland Stadium during this tournament. It nearly went on to the road beyond the midwicket boundary.
The equation had boiled down to 49 off 41, and then Chand chipped Gregory straight to midwicket, where Bosisto dropped a sitter. Three balls later, Chand launched Gregory over the straight boundary, a blow that was bound to have broken Australia. He hit another six off Gregory, his fifth of six, over cover to bring up his century and stayed on to finish the job.
India's batsmen came good after their bowlers had a hot and cold day, their first such performance in this tournament. India had won the toss for the first time at this venue and Sandeep struck with his fourth delivery. He bowled an inswinger that Jimmy Peirson shouldered arms to, hit off stump, and celebrated with the nonchalance of a man who has made an early wicket a habit. In his second over, Sandeep had the other opener Cameron Bancroft lbw, reducing Australia to 8 for 2.
The other new-ball bowler Kamal Passi wasn't as successful. At the end of their first spells, Sandeep had figures of 5-2-8-2 and Passi 4-0-24-0.
Chand brought on his offspinner in the 11th over and Aparajith went round the wicket immediately to the left-hand batsman Kurtis Patterson and bowled him. In the next, Ravikant drew an edge from Meyrick Buchanan and Australiawere 38 for 4. Bosisto and Travis Head had to rescue the innings, like they had against England and Bangladesh.
They had barely got started when Head, on 5, cut Ravikant to point where Akshdeep Nath dropped a straightforward chance. He was lucky to survive an lbw appeal from Aparajith on 20 as well and went on to score 37 out of a 65-run stand with Bosisto.
The partnership ended in a run out, after Harmeet Singh had moved swiftly to his left at point to intercept a Bosisto cut and threw at the non-striker's end. Head had run a long way down and was a few inches short when Aparajith broke the stumps even though he dived desperately. Australia were 103 for 5 in the 30th over and Head stormed off the field rapidly.
The mix-up did not fluster Bosisto. He forged a 93-run partnership with the offspinner Ashton Turner, who was dropped on 2 when he tried to cut Aparajith and gave Smit Patel a reflex chance. Passi returned for a third spell in the 35th over but his day did not improve. Bosisto pulled a short ball, it had taken him 71 balls to hit his first boundary. Bosisto picked up speed, sweeping both spinners and driving Sandeep for boundaries, to score 59 off his last 50 balls and was a knackered man as he walked off the field to the applause of his team-mates and the crowd.
Bosisto was applauded later, too, when he picked up the Player of the Tournament award. However, it was his counterpart, Chand, who had won the day and the World Cup for India.