Mahli Beardman puts in player of the match performance as Australia seals U19 Cricket World Cup title

Sam Jones & Ian ChadbandPilbara News
Australia celebrate winning the under-19 men's World Cup final after defeating India in Benoni.
Camera IconAustralia celebrate winning the under-19 men's World Cup final after defeating India in Benoni. Credit: AP

Karratha has a new cricket world champion, with Mahli Beardman being named player of the match in Australia’s Under 19 Cricket World Cup final win over India.

Hugh Weibgen’s gifted side lifted the Under-19 World Cup at the South African venue of Benoni with a comprehensive 79-run win over the reigning champs on Sunday.

After compiling a daunting 7-253 off 50 overs, the Australians, with their ferocious “cartel” of four young fast bowlers and the artful spin of Raf MacMillan, skittled India’s previously unbeaten side for 174 off 43.5 overs at Willowmoore Park.

“It’s unbelievable, and I’m just so proud of the boys and our coaches,” said their Queensland skipper Weibgen.

“A lot of work has gone into this over the last year, but it gives you a fair bit of confidence when you’ve got a pace attack like ours.”

The youngsters became the fourth Aussie U19 team to win the tournament that has so often unearthed gems of the future, and the first since 2010 when Josh Hazlewood helped Mitch Marsh’s side lift the crown in New Zealand.

This time, the triumph came off the back of more quality fast bowling with Australia’s gamble of playing all four promising quicks paying off.

They proved far too relentless for an Indian batting line-up that was asked to chase down a record score in a final to prevail.

Having won the toss and elected to bat on a humid, overcast morning, the accomplished Weibgen (48 off 66 balls) and aggressive left-handed opener Harry Dixon (42 off 56) provided a fine launch pad.

Then the much-touted Harjas Singh, who’d moved to Sydney from India with his family when he was a boy, put a miserable tournament behind him in which he’d scored just 49 runs in six innings by hammering a half-century decorated with three sixes.

When India earned valuable wickets and threatened to bowl out the Aussies, 17-year-old Ollie Peake, son of former Victoria player Clinton Peake who was himself a teenage, triple-century-scoring prodigy, produced a gem of a finisher’s knock, smacking an unbeaten 46 off 43 balls.

“I’d always back us to defend a total of 250-plus when we have an attack like ours,” Weibgen said.

India never looked like challenging the score once Queensland’s red hot paceman Callum Vidler got Arshin Kulkarni caught behind in just the third over.

But it was Karratha’s Beardman who was named player of the match (3-15 off seven overs), who was the pick of the quicks, making the key double breakthrough of star batters Musheer Khan and captain Uday Saharan in his silky swift spells. Meanwhile, Vidler took 2-35 off his 10 and swing bowler Charlie Anderson 1-42 off nine.

Tom Straker, the other quick nicknamed “Monster Truck”, who’d taken a record-breaking six-wicket haul in the semi against Pakistan, then got in on the final act, as wicketkeeper Ryan Hicks snaffled his fourth catch to end the innings and start huge celebrations.

The team’s fast boys call themselves the “Cartel”, as Beardman, who has Dennis Lillee as a mentor back in Western Australia, smiled: “Standing alongside Cal and the rest of the Cartel, it’s a dream come true. I feel super privileged.”

But spin had its day too. The excellent allrounder MacMillan snaffled the wicket of the dangerous Sachin Das with the first slow ball in the innings, caught behind, and added two more key scalps in his invaluable 3-43 off 10 overs.

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