James Rew hit a magnificent 95 but England’s batting let them down as India won the U19 Men’s World Cup for the fifth time with a four-wicket victory in Antigua.
Rew’s knock, off 116 balls including 12 fours, helped England recover from an early collapse to post 189 all out as India seamers Raj Bawa (5-31) and Ravi Kumar (4-34) wreaked havoc.
England, playing in their first final at this level for 24 years, had India wobbling at 97-4 as James Sales struck twice to remove two key wickets including that of Shaik Rasheed, who made a half-century.
Bawa (35) helped put India within striking distance before Nishant Sindhu saw them home with an unbeaten half-century.
India had been 0-1 when Josh Boyden induced an edge from their leading run scorer Angkrish Raghuvanshi with the second ball of their innings.
A piece of brilliance from wicketkeeper Alex Horton, who took a fine catch, one-handed diving high to his right, after Harnoor Singh (22) gloved a short ball from Thomas Aspinwall, gave England further hope.
They recovered from 49-2 thanks to a patient half-century from Rasheed before both he and India skipper Yash Dhull played rash shots to Sales (2-51)
Both sides had been unbeaten throughout the tournament but India’s composure with the bat chasing a modest total ultimately proved the difference as they wrapped up the win with 14 balls to spare.
Nishant and Bawa’s stand of 67 for the fifth wicket broke the back of the England attack before the former took control to guide India close.
A couple of late wickets for Boyden and Aspinwall gave England a glimmer of hope before India wicketkeeper Dinesh Bana whacked Sales for back-to-back sixes to finish in style.
A familiar tale of England batting woe
Hopes of emulating the class of 1998, when Owais Shah skippered England to their only U19 World Cup success in South Africa, were high heading into this final even though India were highly fancied.
But the main theme of overseas tours for England’s senior teams during a winter of particular discontent was mirrored by their junior counterparts, however, as fragile batting cost them in Antigua.
A cocktail of good Indian bowling, poor shot selection and a few, forgivable, nerves left England’s top-order shaken before their lower order stirred.
The loss of their two leading run scorers in the tournament – Jacob Bethell and skipper Prest – for a combined total of two runs set the tone before Bawa’s three wickets in 12 balls left England teetering on 47-5.
Impressive Rew leads recovery
A burden of expectation placed on the shoulders of a flame-haired left-hander has been a familiar hallmark of English cricket in recent years and Rew carried his side with a Stokesian pugnacity.
Against India’s seam attack the Somerset batter defended stoically, efficiently capitalised on anything short and worked the ball neatly off his legs.
He also swept and reverse swept exquisitely to reach a half-century off 79 balls.
Rew was supported by Sales (34 not out), son of ex-Northamptonshire captain David, as the pair shared a 93-run stand for the eighth wicket.
India left-arm seamer Ravi eventually had Rew caught pulling to deep square and although England’s bowling attack kept it tight in response, India’s pragmatic approach paid off despite a few late nerves.