Bloemfontein (South Africa), Feb 2 (IANS) India put up a dominating display against minnows Nepal, recording a big 132-run victory to book their place in the semifinals of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup here on Friday.
Uday Saharan (100) and Sachin Dhas (116) were the architects of the win, recording a century each and sharing a 215-run partnership for the fourth wicket to help India post 297 for 5 in 50 overs. Nepal’s chase of the target was derailed by Saumy Pandey’s four-for and they were restricted to 165/9 in 50 overs as India U19 won the match by 132 runs.
Opting to bat first, India capitalised on the fresh pitch in Bloemfontein, with Adarsh Singh displaying intent from the word go. The southpaw was dealing only in boundaries, hitting four in the first four overs but was soon caught behind down leg-side by the dynamic Gulshan Jha.
Arshin Kulkarni, playing a supporting role alongside Adarsh, found his rhythm in the last over of the Powerplay with two boundaries. The partnership was ticking along nicely before confusion between the pair resulted in Priyanshu Moliya, promoted up the order for today’s game, being run out while attempting to steal a fourth run.
Arshin could not make amends either as Aakash Chand’s pace got the better of the opener who could only prod a thick outside edge into the gloves of Uttam Magar.
There was still no sign of two-time centurion Musheer Khan as India opted to experiment with their batting line-up in the final Super Six match.
Despite the top three batters failing to capitalize on their starts, captain Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas assumed the responsibility of steering the team towards a big total.
Following a period of measured play, Dhas unleashed an aggressive onslaught against Chand in the 20th over, hitting three stylish boundaries straight back past the bowler. Even the spinners couldn’t evade his onslaught, as Dhas executed a remarkable inside-out cover drive for a six, followed by a four in Dipesh Kandel’s over.
Saharan too soon got in on the act as he took on Durgesh Gupta for consecutive boundaries. Both batters achieved their individual half-century milestones, propelling the partnership to over 100 at a brisk pace.
The Nepal bowlers had no answer to the relentless assault from the batting duo, as boundaries flowed effortlessly. Chances came few and far between – Chand did induce an outside edge from Dhas but with no slip in place, the ball travelled to the boundary.
Dhas went on to score a century in the 45th over, becoming the fourth centurion for India in the tournament.
The marathon partnership of 215 runs, the highest by an Indian pair for any wicket in U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup history which improved the previous record of 170-run stand between Shreyas Iyer and Ricky Bhui, finally came to an end in the 47th over when Dhas departed.
Saharan soon became the fifth India to record a century but was out the very next ball in an attempt to finish with a flourish.
Gulshan bowled a brilliant final over, giving away only 5 runs to stop India from crossing 300.
In pursuit of 298, Nepal’s opening pair, Deepak Bohara and Arjun Kumal, established a strong foundation with a 48-run partnership. Despite a slow start, the duo managed to break free towards the end of the Powerplay, hitting two fours each in the last two overs of the fielding restrictions.
Raj Limbani finally broke the resistance, delivering a short ball that resulted in Bohara’s dismissal, completing a straightforward return catch. The bowlers maintained discipline, effectively controlling the run rate and prompting mistakes from the Nepal batters.
Uttam Magar became the first casualty under the mounting pressure, attempting a slog against Pandey’s bowling only to be caught at mid-wicket by Adarsh.
Pandey claimed two more wickets in his following over, putting an end to Arjun Kumal’s resistance and also dismissing Bishal Bikram in quick succession. The wickets further intensified the pressure on Nepal during their chase.
Kulkarni joined the wicket-taking spree, securing dismissals in consecutive overs to remove Deepak Dumre and Gulshan Jha. Murugan Abhishek made an immediate impact in his opening over, getting rid of Dipesh Kandel for a duck.
This sudden burst of wickets saw Nepal’s innings take a sharp downturn, sliding from 48/0 to a precarious 77/7.
Dev Khanal put up a resistance with a captain’s knock while Subash Bhandari played a crucial supporting role by playing solidly at the other end.
As the partnership was developing, Aaradhya Shukla deployed the short-ball tactic from around the wicket. The tactic proved effective, as Bhandari awkwardly fended an edge to the wicketkeeper.
Pandey ended Khanal’s resistance, who played on trying to dab down behind square.
The final-wicket pair managed to add 45 runs, successfully batting out the entire 50 overs, although they fell short by 132 runs.
Brief scores: India 297/5 in 50 (Sachin Dhas 116, Uday Saharan 100, Adarsh Singh 21; Gulsan Jha 3-50) bewat Nepal 165/9 in 50 (Dev Khanal 33, Arjun Kumal 26, Deepak Bohara 22; Saumy Pandey 4-29, Arshin Kulkarni 2-18).