India captain Unmukt Chand scored a magnificent century to guide his side to victory against Australia in the 2012 ICC Under-19 World Cup final on Sunday.
Chasing 226 to win at Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville, Chand (111 not out) and Smit Patel (62 not out) combined for a 130-run partnership for the fifth wicket as India won the tournament for the third time.
Both Chand and Patel gave Australia chances though, with the former dropped on 38 and 84 by wicket-keeper Jimmy Peirson and captain Will Bosisto respectively.
While Peirson only got a glove to a diving attempt, Bosisto got two hands to his, only to waste his chance at mid-wicket.
Patel was also dropped by Peirson on just two, with the wicket-keeper spilling an attempt to catch the batsman's bottom edge.
India's chase got off to a slow start when opener Prashant Chopra (zero) edged a loose Mark Steketee (1-47 off nine overs) delivery down the leg side, but Chand and Baba Aparajith (33) combined for a brilliant 73-run partnership for the second wicket off just 80 balls.
There were half-chances for the Australians – Chand looked like he was caught lbw off Steketee while he nearly inside edged onto his stumps – but apart from the odd delivery, India were in control.
Aparajith played a series of superb drives through the off-side and Chand soon followed suit as they scored quickly.
At 1-75 in the 15th over, India were cruising, but Ashton Turner was on hand to take a nice catch at cover to remove Aparajith off the bowling of Gurinder Sandhu (1-43 off 10).
Turner (1-42 off 8.4) had Hanuma Vihari (four) caught and bowled shortly after, before Chand was dropped for the first time.
Then Vijay Zol (one) edged to Pierson off Joel Paris (1-33 off 10) before Patel got his reprieve.
But from that point, Chand and Patel batted superbly, initially wrestling control of the match before they swung hard at the end.
Australia could have won the match if Bosisto had of held onto his attempt to catch Chand at mid-wicket, with India needing 49 off 41 deliveries at that stage.
Chand made the most of his second life though, scoring his fifth ever century at Under-19 level in an innings that included seven fours and six sixes, as India finished at 4-227 with 14 balls to spare.
Earlier, Australia made a disastrous start as Peirson (zero) and Cameron Bancroft (two) were both dismissed by Sandeep Sharma (4-54 off 10) inside the first three overs.
Meyrick Buchanan (12) and Kurtis Patterson (16) looked to steady things after the early setback but were dismissed by Ravikant Singh (1-41 off nine) and Aparajith (1-31 off 10) in quick succession as India were in control.
But just as he has done all tournament, Bosisto led from the front with a typically gutsy innings.
He was very patient at the beginning of his knock, realising the importance of his role, and he turned the strike over with a series of quick singles and punchy shots through the off-side.
Bosisto added 65 runs with Travis Head (37) in just under 18 overs for the fifth wicket before a superb bit of fielding from Harmeet Singh ended the partnership.
Harmeet dived to his left to stop a certain Bosisto boundary and Head – who was at the non-striker's end - was caught short of his ground despite scrambling back as a terrific throw left Aparajith with little work to do.
The dismissal threatened to derail the Australian innings but Turner (43) batted superbly, using his feet to terrific effect as he upped the run-rate with three fours and one six.
Bosisto and Turner added 93 for the sixth wicket before the latter fell chasing quick runs, while Alex Gregory (four) and Paris (zero) departed in the same manner as Australia finished at 8-225, a score that ultimately was not enough.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 26 August, 2012 5:31PM AEST