Bloemfontein (South Africa), 2 February 2024-
India registered a massive 132-run win against Nepal after a weak performance here on Friday, securing their place in the semi-finals of the ICC Under-19 Men's Cricket World Cup.
Uday Saharan (100) and Sachin Dhaas (116) were the architects of the win, registering a century each and sharing a 215-run partnership for the fourth wicket to help India reach 297 for 5 in 50 overs. Chasing the target, Nepal's team was derailed by Soumya Pandey's four wickets and they were restricted to 165/9 in 50 overs and India U19 won the match by 132 runs.
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 Adarsh, found his rhythm with two fours in the last over of the powerplay. The partnership was progressing well, before confusion between the pair resulted in Priyanshu Molia, who had been promoted to the upper order for today's game, being run out attempting to steal the fourth run.
Arshin also could not improve as Akash Chand's pace got the better of 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, captain Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas took up 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 the history of the U19 Men's Cricket World Cup, which improved the previous record of 170 runs partnership between Shreyas Iyer and Ricky Bhui, was eventually completed in the 47th over. It ended when the grass went away.
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.
Gulshan 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, the pair managed to break free from fielding restrictions by the end of the powerplay and hit two fours each in the last two overs.
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.
Due to the increasing pressure, Uttam Magar became the first victim, he tried to slog against Pandey's ball, but was caught by Adarsh 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 spree and dismissed Deepak Dumre and Gulshan 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.
India 297/5 in 50 (Sachin Dhaas 116, Uday Saharan 100, Adarsh Singh 21; Gulsan Jha 3-50) beat Nepal 165/9 in 50 (Dev Khanal 33, Arjun Kumal 26, Deepak Bohra 22; Soumya Pandey 4-29) ), Arshin Kulkarni 2-18). (agency)