Townsville (Australia), Aug 20: What a thrilling finish it was at the Tony Ireland Stadium. India clinched a one-wicket win over Pakistan and entered the semi-finals of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup here on Monday. India will face New Zealand in the semis on August 23, Thursday.
Chasing 137 for a win, India struggled before winning by one wicket with 12 balls to spare. There were some tense moments towards the end when India still needed 10 runs to win with one wicket in hand.
But Harmeet Singh and Sandeep Sharma played cautiously and did not succumb to pressure. Left-handed Harmeet scored the winning runs on the last ball of the 48th over.
Harmeet said when he hit the last ball he knew it was two runs."I ran on the first run. I couldn't 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," he said.
Sandeep said there was lots of pressure to score the winning runs. "I was confident that I could play. Harmeet was playing really well too. I was thinking only about playing the ball and saving my wicket," he said.
Last three meetings between India and Pakistan have all been exciting finishes. In the Asia Cup Under-19 recently in Kuala Lumpur, the final was a tie and the game before that in same tournament, Pakistan had won by one run.
"We played three matches against Pakistan. First we lost by one run, second was a tie and this we won by one wkt. It's thrilling," said India captain Unmukt Chand.
Baba Aparajith, who topscored in the match with 51 and took four catches and a wicket, was adjudged Man-of-the-match. In his post-match comments, Aparajith said: "I was batting well, setting small targets. I wished I could've finished the match."
"Harmeet and Sandeep should've been here as Men of the match instead of me. It's they who won us the match," Aparajith added.
In this small chase, India were off to a worst start. They lost three wickets for just eight runs in five overs. Captain and opener Chand was out for zero while the other opener Prashant Chopra managed just four. Hanuma Vihari too was out for a duck.
Aparajith and Vijay Zol put the chase back on track with a good partnership for the fourth wicket. Aparajith was the highest scorer with 51. Zol made 36. They associated for a crucial stand of 66 runs.
But rest of the batsmen kept failing. Barring Aparajith and Zol, none of the top order batsmen were able to make notable contributions.
Earlier, opting to bat first, Pakistan were bowled out for 136 in 45.1 overs. Sandeep Sharma and Ravikant Singh took three wickets apiece.
For Pakistan, captain Babar Azam topscored with 50. The next best was 35 from Ehsan Adil, who batted at number nine.
Pakistan were rocked early by Sandeep when he dismissed two batsmen for ducks. Pakistan were off to a disastrous start, losing two wickets for no runs in the first over.
From that horrendous beginning, they were recovered. However, towards the end, a ninth wicket partnership of 38 runs gave them a chance to fight.
Scores in brief
Pakistan 136 all out in 45.1 overs (Babar Azam 50, Ehsan Adil 35, Umar Waheed 27, Sandeep Sharma 3/24, Ravikant Singh 3/43) lost to India 137/9 in 48 overs (Baba Aparajith 51, Vijay Zol 36, Zia-ul-Haq 3/23, Azizullah 3/30, Ehsan Adil 2/25)