Sanju Samson and Kuldeep Yadav stole the limelight with individual brilliance as a strong Indian side continued their unbeaten run with a crushing 245-run win over minnows Papua New Guinea in the Under-19 World Cup in Sharjah on Wednesday. India will now face England in the quarterfinal on February 22nd. In the other quarterfinal matches, Pakistan will take on Sri Lanka, Afghanistan face South Africa and Australia come up against the West Indies.
Opting to bat in their last league match, the defending champions posted a mammoth 301 for six, before bowling out their hapless opponents for just 56 in 28.2 overs at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The convincing win ensured India topped the group. Samson, who plays for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL), led the way with a blistering 85 off 48 balls, smashing eight fours and four sixes during his stay at the crease. Defending a big total on what did not seem like the best of batting surfaces, left-arm spinner Yadav, who is registered with Mumbai Indians, returned impressive figures of 4/10 in 8.2 overs.
The Indians were off to a sedate start with openers Ankush Bains (59) and Akhil Herwadkar (37) sharing 58 runs in just under 12 overs. Skipper Vijay Zol contributed 35 off 68 balls, but the momentum that the holders were looking for came only after the arrival of Samson at the crease.
Samson found an able ally in Shreyas Iyer, who scored 36 off 38 balls during a fourth-wicket stand of 116 runs that came off just 12.4 overs.
He found the fence three times during the crucial partnership and by the time he fell to Alei Nao, he had already done his job, leaving his side at a comfortable 255 for 4 in the 46th over.
Sarfaraz Khan consolidated towrads the end, smashing his way to a brisk 34 off only 19 balls with the help of three fours and a six. Sarfaraz's knock only made it worse for the minnows. Nao was the best bowler for PNG, returning figures of three for 46 from his 10 overs.
When their turn to bat came, Papua New Guinea proved to be no match to their formidable Indian bowling unit, led admirably by Yadav (4/10) and right-arm medium pacer Monu Kumar, who picked up 3/13 in six overs.
Bowling off-spin, Deepak Hooda took 2/5 in five overs. Barring opener Riley Hekure (20) and middle-order batsman Hiri Hiri (13), the only two batsmen to have crossed the double figures, it tuned out to be a disastrous outing for PNG.