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ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 | Unveils future generation of superstars

Hugh Weibgen with the U19 Men's CWC Trophy

Australia captain Hugh Weibgen with the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup trophy 

The ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 – The tournament that had it all

After 23 days and 41 matches, it was Hugh Weibgen’s Australia who got their hands on the coveted ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 trophy, beating five-time champions India in the final in Benoni.

Weibgen's triumph places him in esteemed company with Geoff Parker, Cameron White, and Mitchell Marsh as captains who guided Australia to U19 Men’s CWC titles. This triumph marked the end of a 14-year U19 trophy drought for Australia.

Weibgen not only led by example with the bat but was praised for his tactical acumen during difficult moments in the tournament, including the brave decision to pick four seamers and bat first against India in the final in overcast conditions.

Australia posted a formidable total of 253/7 in 50 overs. Harjas Singh's half-century, coupled with significant contributions from Harry Dixon, Weibgen, and Oliver Peake, played a pivotal role in Australia posting the highest score in U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup final history.

In response, the Australian pacers dominated the Indian batsmen, who had performed exceptionally well throughout the tournament. The pressure of the scoreboard eventually led to India falling short by 74 runs, securing Australia's first victory over India in the tournament since 1998.

India’s woes in finals against Australia continue, the senior side having previously lost out to Australia in last year’s ICC World Test Championship Final and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

How the tournament played out

A total of 16 teams were divided into four groups of four, with three teams from each group progressing to the new Super Six stage.

India, Bangladesh and Ireland progressed from Group A while South Africa, England and West Indies moved forward from Group B.

While Australia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe qualified from Group C, it was Group D that witnessed a dramatic finale to the group stages, as Nepal edged out Afghanistan in a low-scoring thriller to join Pakistan and New Zealand in the Super Six.

The Super Six stage infused a renewed sense of excitement and energy into the tournament, elevating the stakes for the eagerly awaited semi-finals.

In Group 1, Bangladesh and Pakistan played out a humdinger in a low-scoring affair. In the end, it was Pakistan’s pacers who made the difference, defending 155 runs to take their side through to the semis.

Group 2 saw the vibrant West Indies crash out due to rain interruption in their virtual knockout against eventual champions Australia. Both teams needed a victory to progress, but the match concluded with no result, leading to Australia and West Indies sharing points.

Both semi-finals were closely contested matches that went right down to the wire.

For the first time in the tournament, the undefeated Indian team faced a stern test from the hosts South Africa. Despite a formidable effort by the South African pacers, led by the exceptional Kwena Maphaka, India – reduced to 32 for four in a chase of 245 – managed to secure victory, with skipper Saharan and Sachin Dhas putting together a pivotal partnership.

The second semi-final witnessed Australia initially cruising in their pursuit of 180 before Pakistan’s talented pace attack made a spirited comeback, with 15-year-old Ali Raza claiming four for 34. Australia still emerged victorious but by the slimmest margin of a one-wicket victory in the last over. 

The win gave them valuable momentum to help them secure their fourth U19 Men’s CWC title.


Stand-out moments


Kwena Maphaka vs Jewel Andrew: The Battle of the Best

The inaugural day of the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 provided a tantalising preview of the tournament's emerging talents. 

In the clash between South Africa and West Indies, Kwena Maphaka showcased his prowess by dismantling the Windies batting lineup with figures of five for 38. However, his efforts were countered by the determined Jewel Andrew, who nearly single-handedly guided his team to victory in a thrilling fightback.

Entering the crease with the scoreboard reading 52 for four while chasing 286, Andrew exhibited extraordinary poise, not only rescuing the team from a precarious situation but also steering them within reach of victory. Mixing caution with aggression, Andrew crafted a remarkable innings, tallying 130 runs off 96 deliveries, laced with 14 fours and three sixes.

Windies were 36 runs away from victory when Andrew fell, extinguishing West Indies' hopes of securing a victory. South Africa ultimately won by 31 runs.


Steve Stolk shatters records

It wasn’t just the hosts’ bowling that shone in the tournament, with Steve Stolk leaving an indelible mark with his batting prowess.

Having succumbed to their first defeat of the tournament against England in the previous game, South Africa bounced back with authority in their next, led by the fiery batting of Stolk.

Scotland put up a formidable total of 269 and the pressure was on South Africa. However, Stolk’s eye-catching strokeplay eventually made light work of the chase. 

Scotland were blown away in the early exchange as Stolk created history by smashing the fastest fifty in U19 Men’s CWC history off just 13 balls, surpassing Rishabh Pant’s record off 18 balls. The onslaught didn't halt there, as the opening batter neared a century before being adjudged LBW, falling just 14 runs short of a memorable hundred.

Stolk concluded his blistering innings having scored a remarkable 86 runs off 37 balls, comprising 7 fours and 8 sixes, boasting a staggering strike rate of 232.43.


The World Cup for thrillers

Despite not making it past the group stage, Afghanistan – the semi-finalists in the previous edition – gave the tournament two of the most memorable matches.

In a face-off against New Zealand, after being bowled out for 91, Afghanistan's spinners weaved magic with the ball, turning what seemed like a straightforward victory for New Zealand into a nail-biting affair. 

New Zealand needed 10 runs with two wickets in hand and there was a run-out at the non-striker’s end to add to the drama.

The Black Caps eventually got across the line but Afghanistan’s spirited display earned plaudits from the cricketing fraternity.

Then, Afghanistan once again found themselves narrowly edged out, this time by Nepal, in a fiercely contested battle for the final Super Six spot from Group D. 

Defending a target of 146, Afghanistan's spinners once more fought valiantly to keep their hopes alive. However, Nepal skipper, Dev Khanal, played a captain’s innings, scoring a splendid fifty to keep his team in contention.

When Khanal departed, Nepal had only two wickets in hand and still needed 19 runs for victory. It was Subash Bhandari who emerged as the hero, displaying composure to secure the win with a boundary, taking Nepal into the Super Six stage amid wild celebrations.

Despite not progressing beyond the group stage, Afghanistan, with their spirited performances, left a lasting mark on the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024. Their captivating matches against New Zealand and Nepal underlined the team's resilience and fighting spirit.


The semi-final mayhem

Both the semi-finals of the U19 Men’s CWC 2024 lived up to their billing, going right down to the wire as all four teams fought for their chance at glory.

In the first semi-final, India won the toss and opted to field first for the first time. Prior to the semis, India had steamrolled all their opponents, with four of the five victories coming by a margin of over 100 runs.

Batting first, Lhuan-dre Pretorius and Richard Seletswane scored fifties and laid the foundation for a final flourish from Juan James and Tristan Luus, setting India a challenging target of 245.

Kwena Maphaka and Luus wreaked havoc with an outstanding exhibition of pace and swing bowling. At 32for four, India were staring at defeat when Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas bailed them out of trouble with a 171-run partnership.

India were cruising to victory with the two at the crease when Maphaka struck twice in his final spell, including the wicket of Dhas on 96 to bring South Africa back into the contest.

Despite the setback, Saharan remained resolute at the other end and nearly guided India across the finish line. Unfortunately, he was run out in the penultimate over, but Raj Limbani stepped up, scoring the winning runs and securing India's place in the final with two wickets and seven balls to spare.

The second semi-final clash between Australia and Pakistan produced perhaps the most blockbuster finish in the tournament.

Tom Straker wreaked havoc on the Pakistan batting line-up, reducing them to 79 for five before Azan Awais and Arafat Minhas anchored Pakistan's innings with solid half-centuries to rescue them from a dire situation to 179.

What looked like a routine chase for Australia with a 33-run opening stand took a dramatic turn when Ali Raza bowled an inspired spell to turn the game on its head.

At 102 for five, the partnership of Oliver Peake and Tom Campbell took the team closer to victory before another collapse meant Australia fell to 164 for nine, still needing 16 runs.

In a heart-pounding climax, an inside edge from Raf MacMillan's bat found its way to the boundary, eluding the desperate dive of Ubaid Shah as Australia sealed victory with just a wicket and five balls remaining.


Future stars

The U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 was the stomping ground for future generation of superstars with none more prominent than the Player of the Tournament Kwena Maphaka, who finished the tournament with 21 wickets, which included three five-wicket hauls.

Having played the previous edition as well, Maphaka finished with 28 scalps in total in U19 Men’s Cricket World Cups, tied with Zimbabwe’s Wessly Madhevere for most wickets in the tournament’s history.

Among the other pacers, Ubaid Shah, brother of Naseem Shah, gave a glimpse of the fast-bowling riches that continue to come out of Pakistan. With a combination of pace and swing that bewildered batters, Shah ended the tournament as the joint second-highest wicket-taker, accumulating an impressive tally of 18 scalps.

Australia’s pace bowling duo, Callum Vidler and Tom Straker played pivotal roles in the team’s title triumph, securing 13 and 14 wickets respectively. Vidler consistently posed a threat throughout the tournament, while Straker delivered a standout performance in the semi-final against Pakistan, finishing with figures of 6/24, surpassing Kagiso Rabada’s 6/25 for the best figures in a U19 Men’s CWC semi-final or final.

In a tournament largely dominated by pacers, India’s Saumy Pandey stood out as the sole spinner in the top five wicket-takers, sharing the second spot with Ubaid.

Among the batters, India captain Uday Saharan demonstrated the significance of composure in the dynamic realm of modern batting. Leading by example, he emerged as the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 397 runs, second only to Cameron White's record of 423 in 2002.

In Musheer Khan, India might have found a brilliant batting all-rounder who can do damage both with the bat and ball. The second-highest run-getter behind Saharan, Musheer lit up the tournament with two centuries. With ball in hand, Musheer snared seven wickets in as many matches while bowling at a miserly economy of 3.63.

South Africa’s opening duo, Lhuan-dre Pretorius and Steve Stolk, dazzled with their aggressive batting, amassing 383 runs in six matches at a remarkable run rate of 8.09, creating early havoc for opposing teams on their journey to the semi-finals.

Australia's Harry Dixon (309 runs) and captain Hugh Weibgen (304 runs) played pivotal roles in their team's success, rescuing them from challenging situations on multiple occasions. Both featured among the top five highest run-scorers in the tournament and were the backbone of the title-winning batting lineup, including their crucial contributions in the final after an early breakthrough by India.

Cricket, South Africa, 2024, ICC U19 Mens Cricket World Cup

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