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India Was the Best Fast Bowling Unit in the U19 World Cup

Thanks to the IPL and the riches the quality and the variety that we have in terms of the young fast bowlers coming through has been terrific. Although the speed guns provide a glossy but uncertain image on the bowlers the whole cricketing world were impressed with the Indian U19 fast bowling unit. Players like Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi were touching 140-145kph at times and threesome unit of Nagarkoti, Mavi, and Ishan Porel were more than a handful for the opposition.

Immediately after India won the Under-19 World Cup, head coach Rahul Dravid emphasised on the contribution of his coaching staff more than once. Dravid said he did not want to single out names, but underlined the efforts put in by the assistant coaches in helping the Indian players emerge stronger, better equipped, both mentally and skills-wise, during match play. Bowling coach, Paras Mhambrey, said “We had created an environment where I wanted these guys to come up with their own field settings, strategies in the middle overs and the death overs. They have a good basic understanding of their bowling. They were not just bowling randomly. Like Nagar (Nagarkoti) against Australia (in the league phase), you realise there was some thought process these youngsters applied in their bowling”.

On controlling the excitement on speeds he said “I knew our guys were curious to know the real speeds. I gathered that from some of the conversations they had. One guy would come and quip, "Sir, today, the speed seems to be a bit less. I said, "Boss, it is a speed gun and it can be tweaked. Tomorrow, you might feel you bowled 140, but the speed gun would show 125." There was a moment in one of the matches where Shiva Singh (left-arm spinner) bowled a couple of deliveries that were clocked at 135-140 kph. Our fast bowlers were surprised watching a left-arm spinner clocking such high speeds.

On his part, Rahul Dravid, the coach, showed great humility. “I am really proud of the boys and the effort they put in and couldn’t be happier for them. Hopefully it’s a memory they cherish for a long, long time, but hopefully not the lasting memory and they have many more great moments and bigger things in future,” the batting legend said after India outclassed Australia to win their fourth U-19 World Cup. “I don’t want to mention names, but everyone in the support staff has put in a great effort. We do the best for the kids,” Dravid added as the boys in blue celebrated loudly behind him.

'Feeling really good' was repeated almost every second line, until he was self-conscious of it. In his moment of glory, the victorious Indian Captain, Prithvi Shaw, immediately thanked the fans who came out to support India. For close to an hour after India lifted the cup, he spent time posing for pictures, doing a lap of honour with the team and then sitting back to sign souvenirs. As he trudged in to a room with multiple cameras, the energetic Shaw just a few moments earlier became a lot more self-conscious. "This is the last match for us at the Under-19 level for a lot of us, but there are so many memories that stand out with this group," he said, after a pause to gather his thoughts.

Manjot Kalra, player of the final, later elaborated on the chat in the middle and in the dressing room. "(Rahul) Dravid sir told us how a casual dismissal in the Under-19 final in 2016 proved to be a turning point. Rishabh Pant walked out of the crease and was stumped, I think. He told us how he didn't want us to repeat those kinds of mistakes and play with the same seriousness that we have shown all tournaments."

Jason Sangha, the Indian Origin Australian captain, looked at the hard knock his team took in the final as part of their learning experience as professional cricketers. He was gracious in defeat, happy to credit India's brilliance and pick up lessons from their success story to better his own game. The occasion was perhaps the biggest of his nascent career so far, and he wasn't going to be sulking. "I may never play in a World Cup again, but it has taught me what it is to be a professional cricketer at a world tournament," he said. "I've personally learnt a lot about other players and what they have done. Guys like Shubman (Gill) and Prithvi (Shaw) are such fine manipulators of the ball. They can hit the ball to any part of the ground. That is why they're such good batsmen. I've learnt from them. We've also seen how India bowlers bowl here and how we go about it back home. We have learnt from the opposition. You can't really define one or two things, but definitely we've all learnt a lot watching other players," he added.

The BCCI announced a cash reward of ?50 lakh for the U-19 chief coach Rahul Dravid while the victorious squad members will receive? 30 lakh each. The other members of the support staff including fielding coach Abhya Sharma and bowling coach Paras Mhambrey will get? 20 lakh. In a marked departure from the usual norm where the players, who have done it on the field get greater share of the prize money, the COAled BCCI has decided that the chief coach should get the biggest share. “India is known for its guru shishya parampara and the Guru always gets more. Obviously, the stature of the coach matters a lot,” a senior office-bearer, who was a part of the policy decision said.

Mr. Khanna said he will recommend that the U-19 selection committee chaired by Venkatesh Prasad also gets financial reward just like the senior men’s and women’s panel that went home richer despite their respective teams losing World Cup finals. BCCI Acting Secretary Amitabh Choudhary, said: “It is a proud day for everyone associated with the BCCI and Indian cricket. India is the only team to have qualified for the final of the last three ICC events.” BCCI CEO Rahul Johri said: “Winning the World Cup without losing a single game is a fantastic achievement and I congratulate everyone for this dominant show. In Rahul Dravid, we have a fantastic coach who is moulding the youngsters and also fine-tuning the boys at the India A level before they progress to the senior side,” he added.

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