Under-19 World Cup wrap: India through to semis

2018 Under 19 World Cup

In a match without a true stand-out player, India will be mightily pleased with a comprehensive team performance that will see them surge into a semi-final match-up against Pakistan with confidence.

Shubman Gill (86), Abhishek Sharma (50) and Prithvi Shaw (40) helped India build a 265-strong total after winning the toss and electing to bat on a pitch that yielded 20 wickets for just 223 runs in Australia’s thrilling victory over England just a few days ago.

Interestingly, Bangladesh captain Saif Hassan said he would have chosen to bowl – not due to the conditions, but due to his team’s preference to chase.

After losing Manjot Kalra early, India steadied as Shaw and Gill built a formidable partnership. This would end after 86 runs however when the captain was beaten by a peach of a delivery from Qazi Onik that cut away to take the off stump. Gill went on with the job, blasting nine boundaries among his innings of 86 before he departed with 14 overs to go. This triggered a mini collapse for India who had looked well on target for a score in excess of 300.

Riyan Parag (15), Kamlesh Nagarkoti (5), Anukul Roy (2), Shivam Mavi (5), Sharma (50) and Shiva Singh (3) all departed for just 50 runs toward the India team total, leaving them with a solid but somewhat underwhelming 265 considering the start they had.

Onik was the pick of the Bangladesh bowlers taking 3/48 from his 10 overs and also proved his value in the field with a superb direct hit that sent Roy back to the pavilion.

The Bangladesh chase started steadily – but slowly – with Naim Sheikh the first to go at 23/1 in the ninth over.

Pinak Ghosh then looked to build a partnership with his captain Hassan, but the pair were dismissed by Roy and Nagarkoti respectively in a two-over span and when Aminul Islam was run out just moments later, the writing was on the wall for the Tigers, who needed upward of seven per over at that stage.

Nagarkoti continued his form with the ball taking 3/18 from 7.1 overs and while the wickets weren’t there for Ishan Porel, he carded five incredibly economical overs for just eight runs which applied immense pressure on Bangladesh, ultimately forcing the batsmen to open up and take more risks against the bowler at the other end.

After impressing with the bat, Sharma stepped up and claimed the wickets of Hossain and Onik, as well as taking a pair of catches.

Next up for India is Pakistan, who they will play at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Tuesday 30 January while Australia meets Afghanistan in the other semi-final, also at Hagley Oval, the day prior.

A superb 166 from Keagan Simmons drove West Indies well past 300 in the first innings of their Plate Semi-Final against Canada, before an excellent team bowling performance ensured the North American side never got anywhere close.

West Indies won the toss and chose to bat, losing two wickets within the first 10 overs, both falling to the unorthodox but accurate off-spinner Rommel Shahzad.

But then came the match’s defining partnership, as Simmons was joined by the in-form Alick Athanaze, West Indies’ leading run scorer in the tournament coming into the game. Together the pair added 156, taking West Indies to 212 before Athanaze was dismissed.

The key feature of their partnership was the ease with which they rotated the strike. It felt effortless, with the singles not stolen but nudged and pushed into gaps, and when there were bad balls they were inevitably dispatched.

Perhaps more effort could have been made by Canada to plug the holes in the field; the bowling wasn’t profligate but pressure through dot balls could never be built up, and though captain Arslan Khan experimented with his bowlers, using eight in total, he might have missed a trick with his field placements.

When both batsman had passed 50 the strike rotation gave way to boundary hitting, 36 runs coming in five overs after Athanaze reached his half-century, before Canada pulled West Indies back, conceding just 25 – and not a single boundary – in the four and a half overs preceeding Athanaze’s dismissal. West Indies were 212/3, and if Canada could find a way past Simmons they might have been able to restrict their opponents to less than 280.

The problem was, they couldn’t, not until he’d made the second highest score by a West Indian at this level. His hundred came up from 101 balls, and his 150 just 25 balls later as he took Canada to all parts, going aerial but just to clear the in-field, and not attempting to overhit the ball. Akash Gill located his yorker, bowling well at the death to finish with 4/54, a drop off the last ball agonisingly denying him a fifth.

A five-wicket haul would have been little consolation for Gill when he became the third of three wickets to fall within the first three overs of Canada’s innings, effectively ending the match as a contest. From 5/3, captain Arslan Khan and Kavian Naress staged a recovery of sorts, adding 48, though too slowly to threaten an actual comeback.

They were the only two batsmen to make it to double figures, Naress carrying on to a gritty 61 as wickets fell around him. West Indies bowled well and caught even better, belying their lack of energy and celebration in the field. The game progressed with a surreal air, the result long decided and just the motions left to go through.

The one cause of concern for the West Indies will be the fitness of their captain, Emmanuel Stewart, who copped a blow on the ribs behind the stumps which forced him from the field. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to take part in what West Indies secured here today – a place in the Plate Final against Sri Lanka.

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