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Flair vs Form: India aim for 4th Under-19 World Cup title vs West Indies

Under 19 WorldCup, 2016, Final, India, West Indies, Bangladesh
The form team of the tournament takes on the side that has been the most talked about, for reasons good and bad

Unbeaten India head into the Under-19 World Cup final as favourites, but with a sense of paused optimism as they face the mercurial West Indies. India, playing their fifth final, are seeking to surpass Australia and become four-time holders of the trophy. West Indies have never won the most coveted trophy in Under-19 cricket.

West Indies began the tournament with a crushing defeat against England. Since then they have defied expectations and made headlines with their victories. For the rest of his career, spinner Keemo Paul will have to bear the baggage – and he should with pride – of mankading Zimbabwe’s number 11 Richard Ngarva thus snatching a path to the quarterfinals. Despite scathing criticism the side have been unapologetic and this translated into their matches as they dashed hosts Bangladesh’s hopes in the semis, with Sharmar Springer playing a match-winning all-round role.

Springer will look to replicate such a performance as will new ball bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Chemar Holder, who are likely to extract definitive pace and bounce from the Mirpur wicket.

India, as was expected, have been the form team of the tournament. Followers of the IPL will instantly recognise Sarfaraz Khan and Rishabh Pant. Khan played some excellent cameos for the Royal Challengers Bangalore last season and was also famously involved in an altercation with Robin Uthappa. Pant, on the other hand, earned a 1.9 crore contract with Delhi Daredevils in the recent IPL auction. Both Khan and Pant have been sensational for India in the Under-19 World Cup so far with Anmolpreet Singh and Armaan Jaffer earning their stripes as well.

Perhaps the most interesting story is that of India Under-19 captain Ishan Kishan. Just before the World Cup the 17-year-old was arrested for reckless driving and his participation seemed in jeopardy. Under Rahul Dravid’s astute mentorship, Kishan has subsequently led the side to seven victories on the trot. If Kishan manages to lift the trophy on Sunday, the turnaround in his fortunes will not be starker.

The final in itself is shaping up to be a contest between Indian batsmen and West Indies bowlers. West Indies have the flair, India have the form. The Boys in Blue are favourites, but only just.

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