U19 Men's Cricket World Cup: Saharan, Dhas' centuries help India beat Nepal and secure place in semi-finals

Captain Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhaas scored centuries as India defeated Nepal by 132 runs in the Super Six stage on Saturday to qualify for the semi-finals of the 2024 ICC Men's Under-19 World Cup.

Opting to bat first, India took advantage of the fresh Bloemfontein pitch, with Adarsh ​​Singh showing intent from the start. The southpaw was only dealing with boundaries, hitting four in the first four overs, but was soon caught behind the leg-side by the dynamic Gulshan Jha.

Arshin Kulkarni, who was playing a supporting role along with Singh, found his rhythm with two fours in the last over of the powerplay.

The partnership was progressing well, before confusion between the pair led to Priyanshu Moliya, who had come up the playing order, being run out attempting to steal the fourth run.

Kulkarni too could not improve on this as Akash Chand's pace overpowered the opener who could only edge 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 batsmen failing to take advantage of their starts, Saharan and Dhaas took the responsibility of taking the team towards a big score.

After a period of measured play, Dhas launched an aggressive attack against Chand in the 20th over, hitting three stylish fours straight past the bowler.

Even the spinners could not escape his onslaught as Dhas hit a six with a brilliant inside-out cover drive, followed by a four off Deepesh Kandel.

Saharan also soon became active and hit continuous fours on Durgesh Gupta. Both batsmen achieved their individual half-centuries, taking the partnership to over 100 at a fast pace.

Nepal's bowlers had no answer to the relentless onslaught of the batting pair as the boundaries flowed effortlessly. There were very few chances – Chand took an outside edge to Dhus's ball, but as there was no slip the ball went across the boundary line.

Dhas scored a century in the 45th over and became 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, finally ended in the 47th over when Dhes was out.

“It feels great to score runs,” Dhes said after the match. “I was told yesterday that I would bat higher up the order and I took advantage of the opportunity today.

“The team needed me to play consistent innings. discussion with uday [Saharan] Had to play long in the middle and finish the innings.”

Saharan soon became the fifth player to score a century for India, but was out on the very next ball while attempting a brilliant innings.

Jha bowled a brilliant final over and stopped India from crossing 300 by conceding only 5 runs.

Chasing the target of 298 runs, Nepal's opening pair Deepak Bohra and Arjun Kumal laid a strong foundation by making a partnership of 48 runs. Despite a slow start, both of them hit two fours each in the last two overs, breaking free from fielding restrictions at the end of the powerplay.

Raj Limbani finally broke the resistance, bowling a short ball which resulted in Bohara being out, completing a straight return catch.

The bowlers maintained discipline, controlled the run rate effectively and forced Nepal's batsmen into mistakes.

But he became the first casualty due to the mounting pressure, as he tried to slog against Pandey's ball but was caught by Singh at midwicket.

Pandey took two more wickets in his next over, ending Arjun Kumal's resistance and also dismissing Bishal Bikram early. Wickets further increased the pressure on Nepal during the chase.

Kulkarni joined the wicket-taking race and dismissed Deepak Dumre and Jha in consecutive overs. Murugan Abhishek made an immediate impact by dismissing Dipesh Kandel for a duck in his opening over.

This sudden explosion of wickets caused a huge collapse in Nepal's innings and it slipped from 48/0 to 77/7.

Dev Khanal provided resistance with a captain's innings, while Subhash Bhandari played a vital supporting role at the other end, playing solidly.

As the partnership was developing, Aaradhya Shukla adopted a short-ball strategy from around the wicket. This strategy proved to be effective, as Bhandari took the ball awkwardly past the wicketkeeper.

Pandey ended the resistance from Khanal, who tried to poke the ball from behind square.

The last wicket pair batted successfully throughout the 50 overs and managed to add 45 runs, although they fell short by 132 runs.

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