Australia's Under 19 team celebrate their World Cup title victory after defeating India. Credit: ICC Cricket World Cup Twitter/X

Australia’s Under 19 World Cup campaign may have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but none of that matters now as they hold the cup aloft after defeating India in the One-Day International World Cup final.

The rising stars of Australian cricket were simply brilliant, coming into the tournament as a team with exciting raw talent, not bound by expectations or limits.

To open their campaign the Aussies beat the lesser-established cricketing nation of Namibia in a tight contest, able to chase down the low score of 91 with just four wickets in hand in a nervy first up match.

Australia’s Under 19 captain Hugh Weibgen recalled being “relieved” after an early tournament fright.

“Obviously relieved that we got the job done, looking a little bit 50/50 there for a long period of time, so relieved now that the games over and we got the points,” he said.

In their next match-up they responded beautifully leading to a crushing 225-run victory over Zimbabwe, led by senior members of the group Harry Dixon (89), fellow opening batsman Sam Konstas (45) and the skipper Weibgen (68).

That result seemed to flick a switch in the Australian dressing room, going onto beat Sri Lanka and England in relatively convincing fashion, before a washed-out game against the West Indies to round out the group stage undefeated.

A tension filled match would follow though as they met Pakistan in the semi-final, with both teams vying to move onto the final and keep their dreams of World Cup glory intact.

On a slow wicket which gave the batman all sorts of issues with its variable bounce, the Aussies were able to bowl its opposition out for 179 in the 49th over.

Aussie quick Tom Straker was wonderful with the ball, picking up 6/24 to come away with the best bowling figures in Under 19 World Cup history, overtaking South African superstar Kagiso Rabada.

Although the score posted by Pakistan appeared to be below par, shaky moments would follow for Australia in their pursuit of the target. Australia lost regular early wickets to start the chase, slumping to 4/59 in the 17th over following the dismissal of wicketkeeper Ryan Hicks.

Talented opener Dixon held Pakistan at bay before being bowled for 50 to leave his side reeling at 5/102 in the 27th over in what was becoming an increasingly tricky wicket for batting.

17-year-old Oliver Peake, who only joined the team mid-way through the tournament following a finger injury to batsman Corey Wasley, helped get his team close to the target alongside Tom Campbell. Both were dismissed close to the target, leaving Australia seven wickets down, still with 25 runs to get.

All hope just about looked lost. Enter off-spinning all-rounder Raf MacMillan. He found a way to claw his team closer to the target with the abled assistance of Callum Vidler.

Things were becoming extremely tight with the game coming down to the last over of the match. Australia would require three runs to win and Pakistan just one wicket, both teams so close to one of their greatest world cup victories.

Mohammad Zeeshan charged in with MacMillan on strike. The Aussie pushed at one resulting in an inside edge that narrowly avoided the stumps, as the ball trickled down to the vacant fine leg boundary. It was like time stood still, as the ball inched closer to the boundary and with the Pakistan fielder intently chasing after the ball. Eventually the ball won delivering Australia a stirring victory.

Australia batter Peake who played a crucial role with the bat described the roller-coaster outing as the “best game I have been a part of” in the aftermath of the game.

“It was a pretty amazing feeling seeing the ball go down to fine leg (to win the game). It was probably the best game I have ever been a part of, it was just so amazing,” Peake said to cricket.com.au

This left an imposing task of taking on a formidable Indian side in a re-match of last year’s ODI Men’s World Cup final, but this time with the young guns.

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The Indian’s had won 12 consecutive games at Under 19 level between 2022-2024 and would look to keep that streak going.

On a Willowmoore Park pitch that had heavily suited the pace bowlers throughout the tournament with its prodigious pace and bounce, Australia made the tough decision to leave all-rounder Tom Campbell out in place of swing-bowler Charlie Anderson as the sole change to the victorious semi-final team.

Australia won the toss and without hesitation captain Weibgen elected to bat. Very early on it looked like a regretful decision as opener Konstas was sent back to the dressing room without scoring. This brought Weibgen out to the crease with Dixon, the two best performers for Australia with the bat across the tournament.

They started to build a dangerous partnership, hitting the occasional boundary while regularly rotating the strike. As the partnership approached 100 runs, Weibgen sliced a drive to point to end his steadying knock. Dixon was gone just two overs later, popping one to cover with a ball that appeared to hold in the surface.

The Aussies were now 3/99 as their innings sat on a knife edge. Keeper-batsman Ryan Hicks joined Harjas Singh at the crease as the two built their recovery mission. Singh a talented top order batsman who has been likened to star Usman Khawaja had experienced a torrid run of form up until this point during the Aussies world cup campaign.

Despite that everyone knew that he could produce an innings to remember, and boy did he need to produce it now. After struggling early on in his innings, the struggle soon turned into flourishing strokes as the 19-year-old took the attack to the Indians.

Not long later he passed his half-century before being dismissed. Although the dismissal came at an inopportune time, the partnership between him and Hicks was vital in restoring momentum to the green and gold.

A couple of quick wickets then fell which left Peake to anchor the back end of the innings once again to get his side to a defendable total.

Once again he did so perfectly. Batting with calculation and limited risk, the tail enders of Anderson and Straker were able to provide some assistance and stay with Peake. Peake would finish on a better than a run a ball 46 not out to propel his side to a solid score of 253.

India would require the biggest successful chase in an Under 19 World Cup final if they were to reign victorious.

Australia would then start brilliantly with the ball, as Vidler dismissed Indian opener Arshin Kulkarni for just three with a beautiful out-swinging delivery. As the innings went on, the exciting pace quartet of Vidler, Anderson, Straker and Mahli Beardman gave nothing away, limiting runs and creating chances.

After being hit to the boundary in the first ball of his spell, Beardman produced the perfect comeback, rattling the stumps of Musheer Khan. Beardman would then strike again with what looked to be the killer blow, dismissing India’s captain Uday Saharan (8) after a brilliant catch at point from Weibgen.

Australia’s fast bowling quartet of Charlie Anderson, Mahli Beardman, Callum Vidler and Tom Straker combined perfectly during the Aussies World Cup campaign.

A change of bowling brought immediate success with MacMillan getting Sachin Das (9) caught behind to leave India teetering at 4/68 in the 20th over. Weibgen’s men could smell blood in the water and began to put their foot down. They would take several more quick wickets to leave the initial favourites dead in the water at 8/122.

Some reargard fight by Murugan Abhishek momentarily threatened, but his dismissal symbolised the end of India’s world cup hopes. The Aussies were made to wait a while for the final wicket, but that didn’t dampen the celebrations as Straker had Saumy Pandey caught behind to give Australia a long awaited fourth ICC Under 19 World Cup title.

Captain Hugh Weibgen poses with the Under 19 World Cup trophy after leading the Aussies to victory. The 19-year-old capped it all off with making the Team of the Tournament, after scoring over 300 runs during the campaign.

Moments of raucous celebration would follow as an Australian team held a World cup trophy aloft for the third time in the past year. Mahli Beardman capped off a brilliant tournament with Man of the Match honours for his three-wicket haul and South African fast bowler Kwena Maphaka was named player of the tournament, taking 21 wickets which included three five-wicket hauls.

It was Australia’s first Under 19 World Cup title since 2010 with the Aussie side then consisting of stars Mitch Marsh, Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa. It looks as though there may be some future international stars among the team that secured victory on Sunday night as well.

Australia’s captain Hugh Weibgen could hardly believe the result after the game.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m just so proud of the group of boys and the coaches. A lot of work’s gone into this in the past few months and over the last year, so couldn’t be prouder.

The decision to bat first was a brave one but an outcome that had the backing of everyone, with a dynamic bowling attack giving the team the confidence they could defend any total.

“Everyone was open to whatever we were doing, we just knew that we had to try and do it well and when we’ve got a pace bowling attack like ours there’s a fair bit of confidence when you get 250 on the board.”

“That was our plan to get a few runs and back ourselves to defend it.

Despite scoring just 49 runs in the previous six matches, Harjas Singh received the backing of his coaches and teammates with his immense talent helping him perform on the biggest stage of all.

“He’s a quality player, class is permanent form is temporary so full credit to the coaches [for] sticking with him and putting the faith in him. All the boys knew that he could get the job done, so it was awesome to see him score runs today,” Weibgen said.

There are so many wonderful stories to come out of World cups and major sporting events, not much more special than the story of Ollie Peake.

He wasn’t even in Australia’s squad three weeks ago and only became available after an injury to a teammate in the squad. He made a seamless transition into the side, delivering arguably match winning knocks in both the semi-final and the final.

“It’s hard to describe, from coming two weeks ago as a replacement to playing in a semi-final, it’s a pretty dramatic change of events so I was pretty happy. The boys have been so good, they welcomed me in so well early on.”

“[It’s] just absolutely surreal, I was so happy just to get one game, let alone win a World Cup, so through the roof [with emotion],” he said.

Weibgen said coming into the match he and his team were vary weary of the dangerous threat that India would pose.

“India [are] obviously a class side, [they’ve] dominated the whole competition and just came on the wrong side of it today but they have a lot of quality players who will go a long way in their careers,” Weibgen said.

Australia’s celebrations will surely continue for days to come after their drought-breaking title, with many future stars among the winning squad.

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