With an eye on securing a knockout berth, India takes on minnows Papua New Guinea in the ICC U-19 World Cup on Tuesday. Three-time winners India began the tournament on a rousing note, inflicting a 100-run defeat on a well-knit Australian team on Sunday. With Zimbabwe being the other team in the group, India, with the kind of form they displayed in the sound thrashing of Australia, are expected to progress to knockouts without breaking a sweat. From the moment India captain Prithvi Shaw won the toss and chose to bat, their opening game went almost exactly to plan, and the script is likely to remain the same at Bay Oval on Tuesday.
The likes of Shaw, his opening partner Manjot Kalra, and Shubham Gill with the bat along with the pace duo of Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti could prove to be more than a handful for the Oceanian country. Eager to prove themselves after their disastrous showing in the Asia Cup, India signalled their intentions first up with a thumping win over a very strong Australian side. Papua New Guinea have qualified for their eighth World Cup after remaining undefeated in the East Asia Pacific Qualifier in Samoa. PNG's last appearance in the World Cup came in 2014 in the United Arab Emirates. They would be keen to make an impression and show their fighting abilities.
India may be superior in all departments, but they are well aware of PNG's willingness to make the most of this appearance, and the Rahul Dravid-coached side would look to guard against complacency. India have been one of the most successful teams in the history of U-19 World Cups, with three titles and two runner-up finishes.
The side finished runners-up in the previous edition in 2016, losing to the West Indies in the title clash, and while a final berth looks realistic enough, a stumble at the last hurdle is what they are looking to avoid this time around. In another match in Whangrei, Pakistan will square off against Ireland in a Group D clash.
India: Prithvi Shaw (C), Shubman Gill, Aryan Juyal, Abhishek Sharma, Arshdeep Singh, Harvik Desai, Manjot Kalra, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Pankaj Yadav, Riyan Parag, Ishan Porel, Himanshu Rana, Anukul Roy, Shivam Mavi, Shiva Singh.
Papua New Guinea: Sema Kamea (C), Eisa Eka, James Tau, Tau Toa Nou, Nou Rarua, Igo Mahuru, Simon Atai, Leke Morea, Vagi Karaho, Kevau Tau, Heagi Toua, Daure Aiga, Ovia Sam, Sinaka Arua, Boge Arua.
(With PTI Inputs)