India were touted as the red-hot favourites to lift the 2020 Under-19 World Cup. Now fast forward to February 9, they are set to take on Bangladesh in the final at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom. This is the seventh time India have made it to the final of a World Cup and will be eyeing their fifth title. Meanwhile, Bangladesh will be making their maiden appearance in the final.
Both sides are unbeaten and comprise of fantastic players, but here we look at three each from both sides who could play a crucial role in the finale.
With scores of 105*, 62, 57*, 29* and 59 - Jaiswal has been India's top run-scorer in all the five games that they have played so far. The left-handed opener has played with a lot of maturity and has given India a good start in all the matches. Known for his terrific hitting skills, Jaiswal has batted according to the situation and will once again will look to stamp his authority in the final against Bangladesh.
Chasing 173 against Pakistan in the semi-final, Jaiswal took his time to settle in and only started playing his shots once India had proper command over the match. Jaiswal now would look to finish on a high before moving to bigger and better things.
Veer came in as a replacement for Divyansh Joshi who was ruled out of the World Cup because of a shoulder injury and straightaway made an impact in India's very first game of the tournament. The all-rounder first slammed 44* off just 27 balls and then picked up two wickets in the second innings, and was named player of the match.
He didn't get a chance to either bat or ball in the next couple of games but scored a handy 25 in the quarter-final against Australia. Veer is someone who can play those ramp shots and can be used to up the ante. India haven't really used Veer to his full potential because their frontline batsmen and bowlers have done the job, but if needed, the 18-year-old has all the ingredients to emerge as the game-changer in the finale.
There's always at least one Indian pacer who makes a name for himself in the Under-19 World Cup and this year it's Tyagi. The right-arm paceman from Uttar Pradesh has taken 11 wickets at an average of 10.9 and a strike rate of 18.7. Tyagi did his job in the group stage as well but it was against Australia in the last-eight where he forced everyone to sit up and take notice. Tyagi, who was bought by Rajasthan Royals in this year's IPL auction, took two wickets in the first over and Australia could never recover from that.
He finished with figures of 4 for 24 and India defended their total of 233 without much fuss. The onus will once again be on him to provide India early breakthroughs, and Bangladesh top-order will have to be aware of those in-swinging yorkers that have knocked over quite a few in this event.
Mahmudul Hasan Joy
Joy commenced his World Cup with a couple of unbeaten knocks against Zimbabwe and Scotland but was dismissed for 0 and 3 against Pakistan and South Africa respectively. Chasing 212 in the semi-final, Bangladesh lost both their openers inside 10 overs and the pressure was on Joy to turn his fortunes around and the No. 3 batsman didn't disappoint.
Joy played the situation perfectly and scored a well-crafted century. India however are a different beast altogether and Bangladesh will need Joy to come up with a monumental effort if they want to get the better of India.
Shahadat didn't get a chance to bat in the first two encounters, and has remained unbeaten in the last three games. He has delivered in both the knockout matches and would want to continue his form against India.
Shahadat's 76-ball 74 helped Bangladesh post a solid total against South Africa in the quarter-final and then against the Black Caps, the right-hander scored an unbeaten 40 in the second innings to put the finishing touch. Bangladesh will need the services of Shahadat down the order and his contribution can very well change the context of the match.
A left-arm spinner from Bangladesh. No, there's nothing new or exciting about Rakibul Hasan. Bangladesh have been known for producing quality left-arm spinners and Rakibul is yet another fine product from that factory.
He has been their most consistent performer with the ball and has operated at an economy of just 3.10. It was his 5 for 19 in the quarter-final that broke the back of South Africa and didn't even allow them to put up a fight. Indian batsmen however are brilliant against spinners and it will be interesting to see how Rakibul rises to the challenge.