India won their opener against Australia by 100 runs © Getty Images
India won their opener against Australia by 100 runs © Getty Images

Prithvi Shaw and his brigade of young Indian cricketers could not have asked for a better start to their U19 World Cup 2018 campaign than beating Australia by 100 runs. India put up an all-round performance at the same venue of Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui a couple of days back that must have provided them a lot of confidence. India battled their biggest concern — the performance of their pacers — and dominated both innings, snatching an easy victory. As compared to the force tamed in the opener, the Papua New Guinea challenge seems an easier task to achieve now.

India have traditionally had a long and strong batting line-up and this team is no different. Shaw, at a very tender age, has achieved feats that has compelled critics to compare him with Sachin Tendulkar. He has not let his team down in overseas conditions too, notching up 94 against Australia. His opening partner, Manjot Kalra, too, impressed with an equally eye-soothing 86. No. 3 Shubman Gill played a rather paced-up knock, scoring a 54-ball 63 that reflected his sheer confidence on his skill-set.

The middle-order looked bleak, on the other hand, barring a blitz from Abhishek Sharma. However, both Himanshu Rana and Abhishek have impressing domestic records and will want to pounce on the scope they get in form of facing PNG to get themselves going.

However, the most attractive part of India’s performance in victory against Australia was the pace attack. Shivam Mavi remained consistent at an average speed over 140 kmph while Kamlesh Nagarkoti set an example with controlled pace. Both picked up 3 wickets each and did not let India feel the absence of Ishan Porel, who left the field due to an injury, bowling only 4.1 overs. His injury will be India’s only concern ahead of the match, though he will definitely use the much-needed rest to recover.

PNG’s U19 World Cup journey started against Zimbabwe, with a 10-wicket defeat from which they barely had any positives to take away. PNG put up only 95 in a 20-overs-a-side match, which their opponents chased down with 6 overs to spare. Their highest scorer was Igo Mahuru (26) and only four batsmen registered double-digit scores. The bowlers succumbed to the pressure of defending a low total, failing to bag any wicket.

In all accounts, India have the edge as they eye their consecutive victory in the tournament, emerging as one of the strongest contenders for the title.

Squads:

India: Prithvi Shaw (c), Shubman Gill, Manjot Kalra, Himanshu Rana, Abhishek Sharma, Riyan Parag, Harvik Desai, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel, Anukul Sudhakar Roy, Shiva Singh, Aryan Juyal (wk), Arshdeep Singh, Pankaj Yadav.

Papua New Guinea: Vagi Karaho (c), James Tau, Daure Aiga, Heagi Toua, Ovia Sam, Sinaka Arua, Igo Mahuru, Nou Rarua, Leke Morea, Boge Arua, Kevau Tau, Simon Atai (wk), Toa Nou, Semo Kamea, Eisa Eka.