Bangalore: India beat New Zealand by nine runs in the semifinal of the Under-19 World Cup at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville on Thursday, August 23, to book a date with Australia in the final.
Sent in to bat, India had a strong start, but the middle-order couldn't capitalize and New Zealand were set a gettable target of 210. However, a good bowling performance from India saw New Zealand fall short, in spite of batting for the full quota of 50 overs.
India got off to a good start, with Unmukt Chand and Prashant Chopra, the openers, putting 51. Connor Neynens bowled Chand (31) to break the stand, but Baba Aparajith came on to keep the scoreboard ticking, with the second wicket stand worth 81 runs. Chopra (52) departed, shortly after making a half-century, falling to Ed Nuttall in the 33rd over with the score at 132. Aparajith (44) followed him two overs later, falling short of a half-century when Ish Sodhi deceived him with his legbreak.
Vijay Zol departing for a duck in the next over left India four down for 139. A fifth-wicket stand of 30 runs between Hanuma Vihari and Akshdeep Nath took the score to 169 before Smit Patel (15*), Harmeet Singh (6) and Sandeep Sharma (7*) pushed the total to 209/9 in 50 overs.
New Zealand responded with a steady chase. They started slow, taking 9.5 overs to get to 29 when Michael Davidson (6) was sent back by Kamal Passi. Joe Carter and Ben Horne put on 24 for the second wicket, before both players departed in consecutive overs. Horne (10) fell to Harmeet Singh and Carter (30) was dismissed by Ravikant Singh.
Harmeet got his second wicket in the very next over, sending back Will Young (5), the New Zealand captain, to leave them reeling at four down for 63. However, a fifth-wicket stand of 56 runs between Robert O'Donnell and Cam Fletcher rescued New Zealand, pushing them towards the target. The stand came to an end meekly when O'Donnell's (29) tame effort was caught by Aparajith off his own bowling.
Needing 81 runs from 60 balls, New Zealand stepped up the scoring rate, but the enterprise came at the cost of wickets. Ravikant bowled Neynens (14) with a beautiful yorker, before Sandeep Sharma sent back Sodhi (3) and Fletcher (53) in the space of two overs.
With 28 from 12 needed, Passi's over went for 10 runs, but a wicket off the final ball – Smit Patel running out Ed Nuttall – left New Zealand with the task of getting 18 runs in the final over with one wicket left. Sandeep Sharma then bowled a few good yorkers in the final over to leave New Zealand nine runs short of the target.
Baba Aparajith added to his good innings with an economical spell, returning 1 for 29 in ten overs, to be the man of the match.
India and Australia will play the final on Sunday, August 26, at the Tony Ireland Stadium.
Brief Scores: India U-19 – 209/9 in 50 overs (Prashant Chopra 52, Baba Aparajith 44; Ben Horne 3-28, Matthew Quinn 2-36) beat New Zealand U-19 – 200/9 in 50 overs (Cam Fletcher 53, Joe Carter 30; Harmeet Singh 2-30, Sandeep Sharma 2-36) by nine runs.