India into U-19 finals
BANGALORE – India pulled off a close nine-run win against New Zealand last night to enter the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup.
Defending a modest total of 209, the Indian bowlers stuck to a tight line at all times, not letting the New Zealand batsmen off the hook. Needing 18 off last over, Sandeep Sharma kept his cool as he gave away only nine runs as India made it to summit clash.
Baba Aparajith got his second successive man-of-the-match award for a fine all-round show. He scored 44 before taking the important wicket of Robert O’Donell and finished with economical figures of 1/29. This is India U-19 team’s fourth appearance in the final of the tournament having won the 2000 and 2008 editions while they were runners-up in 2006.
Although a target of 210 never appeared a tall-order for the Kiwis, Aparajith and Harmeet Singh (2/30) stifled the set New Zealand pair of Cam Fletcher (53) and O’Donell (29) in the middle overs to set up the win for the Indians. The duo gave away only 59 runs in the 20 overs between them and also shared three wickets. They were excellent during the Batting Powerplay, giving away only 14 runs in the five overs.
New Zealand suffered early setbacks in the chase, losing the first four wickets for 63 runs. The Carter-O’Donell duo then put on 56 runs for the fifth wicket to bring the Black Caps back on track. It looked as if New Zealand were cruising along towards victory before Harmeet-Aparajith applied brakes on scoring. Back to-back maidens in the 34th and 35th overs suddenly increased the pressure on the Kiwis, leading to the dismissal of O’Donell.
Fletcher, Connor Neynens (14) and Jacob Duffy (21 not out) tried their best to keep New Zealand in the hunt but their knocks were futile as New Zealand ended up 10 short of the target with nine wickets down.
Indian bowlers have done a good job through out the tournament and even in this game the pace trio of Sandeep Sharma (2/36), Kamal Passi (1/48) and Ravi Kant Singh (2/49) complemented the effort of their spinners.