Indian batsmen showed glimpse of form, but it was again their bowlers who guided India past New Zealand by nine runs in the semi-final of the U-19 World Cup and set up a title clash with hosts Australia here yesterday.
The match was not as close as it was against Pakistan, but there were still some anxious moments for India. “It is great feeling to be in the final. It was again a tough match and we should have got a few more runs. I am one of the batsmen to be blamed for that. I should have batted till the end,” said vice-captain Akshdeep Nath.
Put into bat, Indian openers Prashant Chopra (52) and captain Unmukt Chand had a decent start before losing Chand (31), who was aggressive from the very beginning.
One-down, Baba Aparajith straightaway started nudging the ball to steal cheeky singles and push the scoring rate up. Man-of-the-Match Aparajith batted with authority for a well-made 44. Chopra also batted well at the other end to take the total to 131 for one.
But a dramatic collapse took place after that and India colts could only manage 78 runs in the last 17 overs to reach 209 for nine in 50 overs. “Our top order was very good today, but the middle and lower orders couldn’t capitalise on that. In the last game, it was our middle order that contributed. Hopefully we get put it all together in the final on Sunday,” said India’s assistant coach, R Sridhar.
But one positive side was India’s bowling throughout the tournament. Again, a collective effort from Sandeep Sharma (2-36), Ravikant Singh (2-49) and Harmeet Singh (2-30) saw India clinch a close affair.
Asked about the bowling, Sridhar said: “There wasn’t as much help from the wicket as it was against Pakistan match, but there was a bit more turn and our spinner were exceptional today.”