OSBOURN: COVID-hit India will be bolstered by the return of key players when the record four-time champions meet holders Bangladesh in the third quarterfinal of the U-19 Cricket World Cup here on Saturday.
Most of the half a dozen India players, who were affected by the dreaded virus, have recovered and are set to feature in the crucial clash.
Six players, including skipper Yash Dhull, had gone into isolation ahead of India’s second league fixture against Ireland, dealing a big blow to the record four time champions.
Five of them tested positive in the RTPCR tests and also ended up missing the last league game against Uganda.
However, the depth in the squad ensured India won both those games comfortably and qualified for the quarterfinals as group toppers.
Nishant Sindhu led the side in Dhull’s absence as India struggled to field 11 fit players on the park in the game against Ireland.
“Most of the players have recovered and should be fit enough to play tomorrow,” a BCCI official told PTI.
Skipper Dhull, his deputy Shaik Rasheed, Sidharth Yadav, Aaradhya Yadav and Manav Parakh had returned positive RTPCR tests before the Ireland game.
Both Dhull and Rasheed are important batters for the team and had looked in good touch against South Africa in their tournament opener.
Opener Angkrish Raghuvanshi and all-rounder Raj Bawa’s confidence must be sky high after they scored match winning tons against Uganda.
Left-arm spinner Vicky Ostwal has been India’s stand out bowler in the tournament with seven wickets.
Another left-arm spinner Sindhu has been tidy with the ball, taking four wickets at an economy rate of 2.76 runs per over.
The Bangladesh batters will also not have an easy time negotiating the extra pace of Rajvardhan Hangargekar.
The game will be a rematch of the previous edition’s final in 2020 when Bangladesh had stunned the favourites to win their maiden title. Current Bangladesh skipper Rakibul Hasan was part of that memorable final.
In the recently held Asia Cup semifinal in the UAE, India had outplayed Bangladesh and gone on to win the title.