Townsville (Australia), Aug 20: India-born Ish Sodhi was the hero as he hit 12 of the final three balls of the match to hand New Zealand a thrilling five-wicket victory over West Indies and reach the semi-finals of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup here at the Endevour Park.
West Indies had almost sealed the match with 18 needed off the final six balls. But Sodhi had other plans as New Zealand snatched an exciting win off the final ball with a boundary.
India and New Zealand will now play in the second semi-final at Tony Ireland Stadium on Thursday, August 23 in front of ESPN STAR Sports' HD cameras.
Chasing West Indies total of 237, New Zealand looked set to be out of contention for the semi-finals when they reached the 40th over with 89 runs to get from 60 balls.
But crucially, at 149 for four, New Zealand had wickets in hand, with a set batsman, Robert O'Donnell, and a stroke-maker in the form of wicket-keeper Chad Fletcher.
When O'Donnell was dismissed for 42 (83b, 2x4) in the 42nd over, all-rounder Connor Neynens joined Fletcher and it was that pair that delivered in overs 45 and 46, with 15 and 14 runs plundered off the bowling of Jerome Jones and Kyle Mayers respectively.
Neynens fell for 25 (18b, 4x4) in the 47th over with leg-spinner Ish Sodhi picking up from where he left off.
Fletcher was dismissed for 49 (72b, 4x4) in the second last over, with 18 needed from the final over.
The India-born Sodhi displayed nerves of steel to hammer a four of the first ball, a six off the fourth ball and a four off the last ball delivered by right-arm paceman Justin Greaves. Player of the Match Sodhi, who picked up two for 36 from 10 overs in the West Indies innings, finished 22 not out (10b, 2x4, 1x6).
A jubilant New Zealand captain Will Young said the final overs had been "almost surreal".
"We will remember that all of our lives,'' he said. "That was something special. Probably the most pleasing aspect was the fact it was a full team performance - we did some great work in the field and pulled together with the bat when we had."
West Indies had half centuries from skipper Kraigg Brathwaite (53: 97b, 2x4) and Akeal Hosein (54: 70b, 4x4) but in hindsight will regret not getting more runs on the board and will also rue its death bowling performance that allowed New Zealand to pinch the result.
Scores in Brief:
West Indies 237 all out, 50 overs (Akeal Hosein 54, Kraigg Brathwaite 53, Sunil Ambris 35; Matthew Quinn 3-54, Ish Sodhi 2-36, Jacob Duffy 2-42)
New Zealand 238 for seven, 50 overs (Ben Horne 59, Cam Fletcher 49, Robert O'Donnell 42; Ransford Beaton 3-47, Kyle Mayers 3-42)
Player of the Match: Ish Sodhi (New Zealand)
Plate Championship Quarter-Finals
Ireland beat Namibia by four wickets, WEP Harris Oval, Brisbane
Namibia 128 for nine, 50 overs (Christopher Coombe 28, Jason Davidson 24; Graeme McCarter 4-32)
Ireland 129 for six, 24.3 overs (Ryan Hunter 42, Jason van der Merwe 28; Jason Davidson 3-45, Shalako Groenewald 2-16)
Player of the Match: Graeme McCarter (Ireland)
Sri Lanka beat Nepal by eight wickets, Peter Burge Oval, Brisbane
Nepal 79 all out, 27.3 overs (Subhash Khakurel 22; Tharindu Kaushal 3-13, Amila Aponso 2-13, Sanitha de Mel 2-25, Ranitha Liyanarachchi 2-25)
Sri Lanka 80 for two, 20.4 overs (Shehan Fernando 48)
Player of the Match: Ranitha Liyanarachchi (Sri Lanka)