There were two extremely close and unbelievably tense quarter-finals in the Under-19 World Cup today, with India running out winners by one wicket over arch rivals Pakistan, and New Zealand beating West Indies off the final ball in Townsville. The plate quarter-finals were much more one-sided in contrast, with Ireland and Sri Lanka easing past Namibia and Nepal.
Pakistan were restricted to just 136 by India’s bowlers after winning the toss and electing to bat in Townsville, as Sandeep Sharma and Ravikant Singh each took three wickets and Kamal Passi and Harmeet Singh both bowled economically. Pakistan captain Babar Azam was one of just three batsmen to reach double figures – the others were Umar Waheed (27 off 48 balls) and Ehsan Adil (35 off 38) – as he top-scored with 50 off 109 balls.
Their total shouldn’t have been anything like enough, but India slipped to eight for three in their reply as Zia-ul-Haq and Ehsan Adil excelled with the new ball. Baba Aparajith and Vijay Zol then added a crucial 66 for the fourth-wicket to stem the flow of wickets, but Zol was run-out for 36 and was quickly followed by Akshdeep Nath and shortly afterwards Aparajith for 51. The Indians found themselves 127 for nine after 41 overs thanks to two wickets in the 40th over from Azizullah (three for 30) – still needing 10 for victory. Fortunately for them, the last-wicket pair of Ravikant Singh and Sandeep Sharma – who had earlier led India’s charge with the ball – held their nerve and they got home with two overs to spare to record an emotional victory.
Harmeet hit the winning runs with a scampered two and said, “I ran on the first run. I could neither breathe nor cry or laugh, the emotion was tremendous. I backed myself and knew Sandeep could play, it was just about handling pressure. Obviously the mind gets blocked, but I took this as an occasion which I have to enjoy.”
It was an equally tense affair in the other quarter-final in Townsville, where New Zealand were reliant on a cameo from Ish Sodhi to see them over the line. It had looked to be going relatively comfortably at 104 for three in the 25th over, but the departure of Ben Horne for 59 triggered something of a West Indian fightback as they bowled tidily and the required run rate increased. Sodhi, though, hit 22 off only 10 balls and they got home from the last ball of the match.
Earlier, Kraigg Brathwaite and Akeal Hossein had hit half-centuries as West Indies were bowled out for a respectable 237 from the final ball of their 50 overs. Matthew Quinn returned the best bowling figures – taking three for 54 from his 10 overs.
Ireland overcame a slight scare to beat Namibia by four wickets in Brisbane. They lost regular wickets throughout their pursuit of Namibia’s 128 for nine, but got home with plenty of time to spare – opener Ryan Hunter top-scoring with 42 off 37 balls. Graeme McCarter had earlier taken four wickets to decimate Namibia’s top-order, while George Dockrell delivered his 10 overs for just eight runs.
Sri Lanka cruised past Nepal by eight wickets in the other plate quarter-final in Brisbane. They bowled Nepal out for just 79 thanks to an excellent combined effort from their bowlers. Opener Shehan Fernando then led the run chase with a 49-ball 48 and they got home with 176 balls remaining.
Tomorrow’s televised match is the first semi-final between Australia and South at the Tony Ireland Stadium. The other super league fixture is that between England and Bangladesh as they battle to finish fifth in the final reckoning. The plate championship semi-final sees Scotland take on Afghanistan, with Nepal and Namibia, and Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea completing the day’s fixtures.
© Cricket World 2012
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