India Set Up Title Clash With Australia In U-19 World Cup
Townsville (Australia): In-form opener Prashant Chopra and Baba Aparajith helped India chalk out a nine-run win over New Zealand here Thursday and enter the Under-19 Cricket World Cup final for the fourth time.
Chopra struck a patient 52 while Aparajith scored 44 in India’s 209 for nine and then a disciplined bowling effort restricted New Zealand to 200 for nine in the second semi-final at the Tony Ireland Stadium. Wicket-keeper Cam Fletcher’s effort of 53 went in vain.
Sandeep Sharma, Ravikanth Singh and Harmeet Singh picked up two wickets each, ensuring India’s date with defending champions Australia in the final here Sunday. “Australia would be tough. It is always difficult to beat them. Having said that, we are really excited to be in the final and can’t wait for the Sunday’s clash,” India captain Unmukt Chand said after the match, adding that playing at their base venue here will help them in the final.
The Kiwis were very much in the hunt till the end, needing 48 off the last 30 balls with five wickets in hand. But their inability to find the big shots on a difficult batting wicket led to their downfall. They failed to replicate their performance against the West Indies in the quarter-final Monday when they pulled off a stunning last-ball victory.
India made the Kiwis’ run chase extremely tough with their superiority in the spin department.
Medium-pacers Sandeep and Ravikanth provided the early breakthroughs and the spin duo of Harmeet (2-30) and Aparajith (1-29) made the New Zealand batsmen work hard for every run.
While left-arm spinner Harmeet foxed the batsmen with variation in pace, offie Aparajith maintained a tight line and length. Together, they took three wickets in 20 overs giving away 59 runs.
Earlier, Chopra and Aparajith laid the foundation of a competitive total after the opposition put India in. Chopra played some delightful strokes in his 104-ball knock and crossed the fifty mark for the third time in the tournament. He set-up a 81-run stand with Aparajith before they both departed in quick succession, leaving India at 138 for three in the 36th over.
Indian batting had struggled throughout the competition and it showed once again with the bulk of the line-up falling flat. After the dismissals of Chopra and Aparajith, India could only manage 71 runs in the last 14 overs.
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