Friday, March 1, 2024

Picking the best playing XI of U19 World Cup 2024 ft. Uday Saharan, Saumy Pandey 

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The 15th edition of the ICC men’s under-19 World Cup is now in the history books, with Australia lifting the title by upstaging India in the final by 79 runs in Benoni on Sunday, February 11.

Both teams entered the summit clash after going unbeaten throughout the tournament. While Australia beat Pakistan in a nail-biting semifinal, India sealed their spot in the final by sneaking past hosts South Africa.

The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2022 brought forth quite a few rising talents. Throughout the competition, several players made an impression and started their journeys to their respective senior teams.

On that note, we have assembled the tournament’s best XI, which includes several names we could be familiar with in the future:

Openers: Harry Dixon and Lhuan-dre Pretorius

Harry Dixon during India v Australia: Final - ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup 2024
Harry Dixon during India v Australia: Final – ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024

Two left-handers in Harry Dixon and Lhuan-dre Pretorius will open the innings for this team.

Playing for Australia, Dixon was solid in the top order, making 309 runs, the most by a non-Indian batter in the tournament. The 18-year-old played seven innings and wasn’t dismissed on a single-digit score even once. He averaged 44.14, with three fifties, the joint-most by any batter.

Lhuan-dre Pretorius, meanwhile, was the designated wicket-keeper for South Africa and did well in every facet of the game. The 17-year-old formed a threatening opening pair with Steve Stolk. While Stolk made 228 runs, Pretorius accumulated 287 runs at an average of 57.40 and a great strike rate of 94.09.

Apart from his eight dismissals with the gloves, Pretorius even picked up one wicket in a thrilling opening game against the West Indies.

Middle-order: Hugh Weibgen, Musheer Khan, Uday Saharan, and Sachin Dhas

Musheer Khan for India at the U19 World Cup
Musheer Khan for India at the U19 World Cup

The middle order of this XI will feature Hugh Weibgen, Musheer Khan, Uday Saharan, and Sachin Dhas.

Under Weibgen’s leadership, Australia lifted their fourth U19 World Cup title. His captaincy was on point throughout the competition and he took brave calls from time to time.

Weibgen finished as the fourth-highest run-getter with 307 runs at an average above 50. His best knock came in a high-octane encounter against England in Kimberly, where he made 120 in 126 balls.

Next up are the three high-quality Indian batters, Musheer Khan, Uday Saharan, and Sachin Dhas. Their consistent performances propelled the Men in Blue to the final.

Brother of Sarfaraz Khan, Musheer was the only player to notch up multiple centuries at U19 World Cup 2024, with his best score (131) coming up against New Zealand. Some handy wickets with his left-arm spin gave a glimpse of his all-round skills as well.

Aside from the 360 runs he scored at an average of 60.00, Musheer even picked up seven wickets in as many matches.

Next up is the Indian captain, Uday Saharan, who ended up as the leading run-getter of the tournament. With three half-centuries and a ton against Nepal, Saharan hammered 397 runs at an average of 56.71. Saharan soaked up the pressure and stabilized the Indian innings multiple times after mini collapses.

At No. 6, there is another big Indian talent in Sachin Dhas. The free-flowing middle-order batter was in sensational touch as he dominated the bowlers even under pressure.

The 19-year-old played one of the best innings of the tournament in the semi-final against South Africa, where he made 96 off 95 after India were reduced to 32/4. Dhas also scored a century against Nepal and finished the edition with 303 runs.

His batting average of 60.60 and a strike rate of 116.53 were the highest by any batter with more than 270 runs in the competition.

Bowlers: Nathan Edwards, Tom Staker, Kwena Maphaka, Ubaid Shah and Saumy Pandey

Tom Straker and Kwena Maphaka
Tom Straker and Kwena Maphaka

The bowling line-up of this XI will feature Nathan Edwards, Tom Staker, Kwena Maphaka, Ubaid Shah, and Saumy Pandey. These bowlers dominated most of the batters they faced, showing that the future of bowling is in safe hands.

West Indies’ Nathan Edwards was one of the better all-rounders of the tournament. He spearheaded the bowling attack and even batted in the lower-middle order for the Men in Maroon.

Edwards batted four times and made 101 runs at an average of 50.50. With his left-arm pace, the 18-year-old picked up 11 wickets at an average of 17.81.

Another Australian on the list is pacer Tom Straker. Alongside Callum Vidler and Mahli Beardman, Straker formed a lethal bowling troika, which accumulated a combined 37 of the 60 wickets picked up by the Australian side in the tourney.

Straker, in particular, claimed 13 scalps at an emphatic bowling average of 11.00. His career-best figures of 6/24 came during the crunch semifinal match against Pakistan in Benoni.

After this comes the Player of the Tournament Kwena Maphaka, who was perhaps the most lethal bowler of the tournament. The 17-year-old left-armer was the highest wicket-taker of the competition with 21 wickets at an unbelievable average of 9.71 and a bowling strike rate of 15.28.

Maphaka’s pin-point yorkers and venomous bouncers captivated cricket enthusiasts, and the pacer can possibly be fast-tracked to the national set-up soon.

The last pacer in the XI is Ubaid Shah from Pakistan. The 18-year-old was undoubtedly the best of the Pakistani lot as he performed exceedingly well in almost every game.

Shah, who bowled across six innings, ended up as the joint-second-highest wicket-taker with 18 scalps. During a must-win clash against Bangladesh, he came up with a breathtaking spell and finished with figures of 5/44, sending the entire team into a frenzy.

At No. 11 is India’s Saumy Pandey. It was a huge achievement for a finger spinner to end up as the joint second-highest wicket-taker in an ICC tournament held in South Africa. The left-arm spinner bagged 18 wickets at an immaculate average of 10.27 and at a frugal economy rate of 2.68, the best among bowlers who took five or more wickets.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava

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