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England’s pups one step from glory


England v India

Under 19s World Cup Final, February 5

Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua (1pm UK)

In 2017, England’s women won the one-day World Cup. 

In 2019, England’s men won the one-day World Cup. 

In 2022, England’s Under 19s are aiming to complete the hat-trick following a stunning campaign which has seen them win five games from five, including beating defending champions Bangladesh in their opening group game last month. 

Tuesday’s semi-final win over Afghanistan, defending 231 in 47 overs, had everyone on tenterhooks. Social media was awash with fans and media suggesting they were on the verge of nervous breakdowns when it got down to Afghanistan needing 19 off two overs with four wickets in hand. 

But the man with the coolest head of the lot was 17-year-old Leicestershire leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, who took three wickets in the penultimate over, showing off a wicked googly.

Like England, India have won five from five, including beating Australia in Wednesday’s semi-final. 

Heart versus head, that’s the question

India, in their fourth consecutive final, are justifiable favourites, and are priced at 8/15 with Bet Victor. But the romantic punt would obviously be England, captained by young Hampshire batter Prest, to win at 13/8 with bet365

As indicated, I would be siding with India, though not at the pre-match 8/15. I would be keen to hold fire and see if the odds get more appetising at the toss or even in the early stages of the fixture in play. 

Batting quality raises hope of century scored 

These two sides are filled with batting quality and have shared four centuries so far through the competition – three for India and one for England. 

Although there has only been one score above 250 at this North Sound venue so far – 276/6 for Australia v Pakistan – you have to feel there is a decent chance of securing the 9/4 shot from bet365 for a century to be scored in the match. 

Prest and Indian trio Raj Bawa, Angkrish Raghuvanshi and Yash Dhull have already posted three figures in this event, while someone such as a Jacob Bethell has gone close. 

Jacob Bethell, remember the name!

Barbados-born Bethell, the 18-year-old currently making waves in Warwickshire’s system, looks like one to watch. 

He made his first-team debut for the Bears last summer, playing once in the County Championship as the title returned to Edgbaston. 

Prior to a quiet semi-final against Afghanistan earlier in the week, he smoked South Africa all over North Sound with 88 off 42 balls in the quarter-final. 

I really like the look of this left-handed opener who bats with a real swagger, and I would be keen to take the 11/4 on offer from bet365 for him to be England’s top run-scorer in the match.