TAROUBA: Rattled by multiple COVID-19 cases but through to the last-eight stage, the Indian team would hope that its campaign remains on track as it takes on minnows Uganda in its final Group B game of the Under-19 World Cup, here on Saturday.
With six of the 17-member squad forced into isolation before the Ireland game on Wednesday, India barely managed to field a playing XI but the available bunch was good enough for a thumping 174-run win that cleared the team's passage into the quarterfinals.
India would surely want that skipper Yash Dhull and his deputy Shaik Rasheed, who are among the six virus-affected players, return to the side by the time the knockout stage begins.
It will only be known by Friday evening which of the affected players will be available for the contest against Uganda when RT-PCR reports of five of them, including that of Dhull and Rasheed, will be available.
Siddarth Yadav is the only player who has a confirmed positive RT-PCR report while Dhull, Rasheed, and Aaradhya Yadav tested positive in Rapid Antigen Tests.
All-rounders Manav Parakh and Vasu Vats had tested negative even in RAT but were pulled out as a precautionary measure after showing symptoms for the infection.
National Cricket Academy Head VVS Laxman had lauded the players for the way they responded to the situation.
"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 still assumes significance since the players could be under mental stress because of the COVID and those who missed out on Wednesday would hope to be in the clear to get some crucial match-time under their belt.
If the five players, who are awaiting test reports, are rendered unavailable yet again, the team management will be forced to field the same playing XI that won against Ireland.
While talent is in abundance in this Indian team, when the knockout stage begins, the team would want its best players on the park as it is eyeing 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 a 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.
Squads: 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.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)