India’s tail-enders held their nerves in the tense dying moments to edge out arch-rivals Pakistan by one wicket in a low-scoring thriller to cruise into the semifinals of the under-19 cricket World Cup here today.
After dismissing Pakistan for a paltry 136, India made rough weather of a small target as they were reduced to 127 for nine in 41 overs after being in a comfortable 124 for six at one stage.
It was a nerve-wrecking final 25 minutes as Mumbai lad Harmeet Singh and number 11 Sandeep Sharma from Punjab held their nerves to eke out a narrow one-wicket win with two overs to spare at the Tony Ireland Stadium here.
The two tail-enders played out seven overs to score the remaining 10 runs as the Pakistanis applied pressure with their fielders closing in.
The victory came when Harmeet pulled Mohammad Nawaz towards the squareleg boundary to score two runs and take India to the victory target.
The victory shot triggered off scenes of wild celebration in the Indian camp as his teammates rushed onto the field to hug him.
India will now take on New Zealand in their semifinal on August 23. New Zealand beat West Indies by three wickets in the other quarter-final match.
It must have personally been satisfying for both Sandeep and Harmeet who are dubbed as ‘U-19 veterans’ in their team as they were playing their second colts World Cup having been a part of the team in 2010 as well. India had then lost to Pakistan.
Credit should also be given to Baba Aparajith (51, 97 balls, 3×4) as his composed batting after initial jitters steadied the ship.
India were tottering at eight for three within the first five overs of their chase but Aprajith along with Vijay Zol (36) added a crucial 66 runs for the fourth wicket to ensure India’s passage into the last four stage.
This was also a sweet revenge for Unmukt Chand and co as Pakistan had convincingly beaten India in the previous two meetings of the under-19 edition in 2006 and 2010.
In conditions conducive for both seam ans swing bowling, Pakistan left arm pacer Zia-ul-Haq troubled the Indian top-order with his brisk pace as he repeatedly got the ball to angle away from the right handers.
India’s batting mainstay Chand paid for his impetuosity as he flashed hard at a Zia delivery only to be caught brilliantly in their deep third-man region by Ehsan Adil.
In the very next over, right-arm medium pacer Adil got one to shape away from the opener Prashant Chopra (4) as he nicked it to wicketkeeper Salman Afridi.
Hanuma Vihari (0) followed the suit as he edged one to the second slip of Zia’s bowling.
At eight for three, Zol and Aparajith joined hands to carry out a repair job. They first concentrated on taking singles and two’s and hit the occasional boundary in between.
Zol fell at the score of 74 while attempting a non-existent run as he failed to make to the crease on time.
Akshdeep Nath didn’t stay for long as India were again in a spot of bother at 84/5.
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