The West Indies will hope to rekindle memories of their former glory in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Sunday as they take on modern-day giants of the game India in the 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup final. (Under-19 World Cup: India Favorites Against West Indies)
The young Caribbeans exceeded all expectations to reach the final of the prestigious meet, despite starting the tournament on a wrong foot with a 61-run loss to England in their opening match.
But they have not looked back since, beating Fiji and Zimbabwe in the group stage to qualify for the quarter-final.
They reserved their best for the knock-out rounds, first stunning Pakistan by five wickets before ending the dream of hosts and tournament favourites Bangladesh with a thrilling three-wicket win in Thursday’s semi-final.
Skipper Shimron Hetmyer, Shamar Springer and the hard-hitting Gidron Pope starred in both the run-chases, while fast bowler Alzarri Joseph’s fiery spells have often been timed at above 145 kph (90 mph).
Former Caribbean fast bowler Ian Bishop said he believed West Indies cricket still had a deep reservoir of talent.
“(The) kids have done better than I thought they would have,” Bishop told AFP in an interview on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t say they were as prepared as they could have been. So to get to the final… I think it will encourage a lot of West Indian supporters.”
Bishop, a member of a great West Indies team of the 1990s, is in Dhaka as a television commentator for the tournament.
“It also give a glimpse that West Indies do have talents, if not as much as before,” he said.
He said that the West Indies should have “programmes in place” to turn talented youngsters into world beaters like their predecessors of the 1970s-90s.
– India favourites –
India will start the match as the favourites being the only unbeaten side so far, but West Indies captain Hetmyer is not too concerned.
“They are a very good team and are unbeaten but two days ago we played against Bangladesh who were unbeaten. We beat them,” Hetmyer said.
“We just go out and play our best cricket in the tournament, tomorrow. Let’s hope we come out on top.”
India are on a 15-match winning streak in the tournament since losing to England in the quarter-final of the previous edition in the United Arab Emirates two years ago.
They have also won 20 of its 21 one-day matches since January 2014.
India Under-19 captain Ishan Kishan said they are not intimidated by the West Indies’ fast bowlers, who also include opening bowler Chemar Holder.
“Most of us who are batting in the top order play domestic cricket back in India,” said Kishan.
“We face senior fast bowlers in first-class cricket. So, it’s not a problem. But it is about how we plan to tackle them and how we execute it on the field.”
India won the tournament three times previously and are making their fifth final. The West Indies will be chasing their maiden title, having reached their second final.