Tarouba (Trinidad), Jan 21: Rattled by a COVID-19 outbreak but through to the last-eight stage, India will have just 12 players to choose from in their final Under-19 World Cup group B clash against Uganda on Saturday as five of their six isolated squad members returned positive for COVID-19 in RT-PCR tests, here.
Only Vasu Vats came out negative but it is likely that the team management will field the same playing XI that thumped Ireland by 174 runs on Wednesday and secured a place in the quarterfinals.
Skipper Yash Dhull, his deputy Shaik Rasheed, and Aaradhya Yadav, all of who tested positive in the Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT), have been confirmed positive in the latest RT-PCR reports along with Manav Parakh, who had tested negative in RAT.
Sidharth Yadav had already tested positive in the RT-PCR test before the Ireland game.
Fortunately, India already have two victories in pocket and an easy opponent to tackle in the final Group game on Saturday.
Considering that Uganda is not a strong team, India, despite limited options, is expected to steamroll the minnows from the African region and finish on top of Group B.
If the team does that, all the infected players, including the worst-affected Dhull, are expected to be back in the reckoning for selection for the January 29 quarterfinal.
National Cricket Academy Head VVS Laxman had lauded the players for the way they responded to the situation ahead of the Ireland game.
“Tremendous show of character and maturity from the U-19 team. With just 11 players available, to go out and express themselves the way they did was phenomenal. Can’t say how proud I am of them! The Ireland match is one they will cherish for life,” Laxman had tweeted.
The game against Uganda is inconsequential mathematically for India but it would have been ideal if the affected players got some time in the middle to be ready for the knockout stage.
The team would have obviously preferred to have all its best players on the park as it eyes a fifth trophy.
So far, openers Harnoor Singh and Angriksh Raghuvanshi have shown terrific form and are likely to continue in the same vein but the following middle-order batters need to score at better pace.
Nishant Sindhu, who led the side in the absence of Dhull, also looked in good touch.
The team also has an explosive batter in the lower-middle order in Rajvardhan Hangargekar, who used the long handle to good effect in the contest against Ireland.
Uganda is yet to win a game in the tournament. It lost by a massive 121-run margin to South Africa on Tuesday after losing by 39 runs to Ireland in the opening match.
Pascal Murungi is the only player who has shown some spark with both bat and ball while pacer Juma Miyaji and off-spinner Joseph Baguma did a decent job with the ball in the matches thus far.
India: Yash Dhull (c), Shaik Rasheed (vc), Aaradhya Yadav, Dinesh Bana, Raj Bawa, Aneeshwar Gautam, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Harnoor Singh, Manav Parakh, Vicky Ostwal, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Ravi Kumar, Garv Sangwan, Siddarth Yadav, Nishant Sindhu, Kaushal Tambe and Vasu Vats.
Uganda: Pascal Murungi (c), Munir Ismail (vc), Brian Asaba, Isaac Ategeka, Joseph Baguma, Cyrus Kakuru, Christopher Kidega, Ronald Lutaaya, Juma Miyaji, Matthew Musinguzi, Akram Nsubuga, Edwin Nuwagaba, Pius Oloka, Ronald Omara and Ronald Opio.
Match starts at 6:30pm IST. (PTI)