ICC U19 CWC: QF - Ind vs Pak
Townsville, Aug 20: In a low-scoring high-pressure match, India beat Pakistan by one wicket to enter the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2012 semi-finals. In the closely fought encounter, Baba Aparajith set-up victory for India after the Indian bowlers bowled the opposition out for 136. With neither side conceding an inch, Harmeet Singh held his nerve to take India to the finish line with 12 balls to spare at the Tony Ireland Stadium in the third quarter-final of the tournament.
Defending a small total, the Pakistan pacers dealt early blows leaving India reeling on eight for three. India lost the key wicket of Unmukt Chand with just seven runs on the board. The India skipper who has been their saviour in crucial games in the past year was out for a duck. After Zia-ul-Haq removed Chand, Prashant Chopra followed his opening partner back to the pavilion. Chopra edged a short ball from Ehsan Adil to Salman Afridi behind the stumps to depart for four. Hanuma Vihari who replaced him at the crease edged Zia-ul-Haq to the slips and walked back without opening his account.
Aparajith and Vijay Zol (36 off 62) then joined forces to add 66 runs for the fourth wicket until Zol was run out trying to sneak in an extra run. The duo held the fort against the Pakistan bowlers who kept charging in and were comfortably cruising towards the target until the mishap. Sent back by his partner, the south-paw who was the dominant partner in the stand, failed to make his ground. Zol was dropped on the previous delivery that he had faced but the missed chance did not cost Pakistan much. His departure brought Akshdeep Nath to the crease. However, Nath who looked in good nick was dismissed for seven by Azizullah bringing Pakistan back into the match.
With half the batting line-up back in the hut, it was now left to Aparajith and Smit Patel to take India across the line. Patel who has played quite a few critical knocks for the colts lower down the order is no stranger to the situation. The two kept the scoreboard ticking with singles and twos as India inched towards the target.
But, Pakistan struck back when Zia-ul-Haq ended Aparajith’s carefully compiled 97-ball innings for 51 and Adil sent back Patel exposing the Indian lower-order. With India requiring 13 runs to win and Pakistan needing three wickets, the bowling side sniffed victory and stepped-up the pressure with an attacking field and tight bowling. Azizullah then trapped Kamal Passi leg-before and castled Ravi Kant Singh off the last ball to put Pakistan in the driver’s seat.
With 10 runs required and one wicket in hand, Harmeet Singh steered India to victory with Sandeep Sharma at the other end.
Earlier, Sharma, who has impressed with his ability to swing the ball, set the tone of the match with two wickets in the first over after Pakistan opted to bat. He found an able ally in Ravi Kant who despite conceding extras and giving away free-hits, made a serious dent in the middle-order.
Sharma had opener Sami Aslam edging the ball to Aparajith at second slip off the very first delivery. Then, on the fifth ball of the over, Imam-ul-Haq who had replaced Aslam met with the same fate with an identical delivery that was going away from the batsman.
With both the left-handers back in the dressing-room without a run on the board, Umar Waheed who joined Babar Azam in the middle got Pakistan off the mark with a single off the last ball. The skipper and Waheed then set about the task of repairing the innings. But, just as it looked like Pakistan was recovering from the early losses, Ravi Kant struck to remove the latter, ending the partnership for 55. In his next over, the pacer rattled Saad Ali’s off-stump and took the edge of Afridi’s bat with his next delivery which landed safely in the wicketkeeper’s gloves.
In the following over, Mohammad Nawaz nicked a flatter delivery from Harmeet to Patel behind the stumps leaving Pakistan tottering at 62 for six in the 21st over.
With Zafar Gohar for company Azam once again attempted to revive the Pakistan innings but the partnership ended with the captain hitting the ball to his opposite number at short mid-wicket. The captain who had anchored the innings till then returned to the pavilion for 50. Gohar then nicked Passi to the keeper leaving Pakistan on 98 for eight in the 34th over.
However, a late resistance by Adil who was dropped by Aparajith on zero when the bowler failed to hold on to a return catch, prolonged the Pakistan innings till the 46th over. The No. 9 batsman went on to score 35 off 38 with four sixes. When the partnership between Adil and Azizullah began to take shape, Chand handed the ball to Nath. Claiming his only wicket of the tournament Nath dismissed Azizullah who had contributed two runs in the 38-run stand. Sharma then dismissed Adil off the first ball of the following over to wrap-up the innings for 136.
Brief scores: Pakistan 136 all out in 45.1 overs (Babar Azam 50, Ehsan Adil 35, Sandeep Sharma 3/24, Ravi Kant Singh 3/43) lost to India 137/9 in 48 overs (B Aparajith 51, V Zol 36, Zia-ul-Haq 3/23, Azizullah) by one wicket
Man-of-the-Match: Baba Aparajith for his all-round performance (51 runs, one wicket and four catches)