India capped off yet another sensational performance in the ICC Under-19 World Cup, this time beating Pakistan by a handsome 203-run margin in the big semifinal on Tuesday. With the win, India not only registered their fifth win over their arch-rivals in Under-19 World Cup, but also booked themselves a place in the final, where they will face three-time winners Australia on Saturday.
From ball one, India were the dominant of the two sides. Young batting sensation Shubman Gill scored his maiden century to lift India to 272/9, in chase of which Pakistan batting imploded before eventually getting bowled out for a lowly 69, their heaviest defeat in Under-19 World Cups. Leading the destruction was fast bowler Ishan Porel, who snuffed out four wickets, accompanied by two scalps each from spinners Riyan Parag and Shiva Singh.
Just 48 hours after being snapped up by IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 1.8 crore, coming in at the fall of India’s first wicket, Gill remained unbeaten on 102 and in the process, overtook his skipper Prithvi Shaw’s 94 for highest individual score by an Indian in the tournament. With the century, Gill took his personal tally to 341 runs in the tournament with an average of over 170. He even returned to take a stunning catch, running behind, later in the innings.
Gill got good support, first from Harvik Desai and later from Anukul Roy, and struck 50-run partnerships with both. He built on a solid foundation laid by openers Shaw and Manjot Kalra, who had put on 89 runs for the opening wicket before Shaw was run-out for 41. Pakistan struggled on the field, missing almost half a dozen run out chances and dropping two catches.
Shaw and Kalra started off with a breeze, bringing up India’s 50 inside eight overs before Pakistan finally scored a run-out. Responding to a risky Single, Shaw took off and even put in the dive but couldn’t ground his bat properly. India suffered a second jolt soon after when Muhammad Musa got his first wicket with Kalra inside edging a delivery to the wicketkeeper.
Pakistan’s fast bowler Arshad Iqbal, who gave away 21 runs in his first three overs, came back strong in his second spell and reduced India to 166/5 by snaring three wickets in three overs – Desai, Riyan Parag and Abhishek Sharma. With Gill going great guns at the other end, he needed someone to support him and that came from Anukul. The left-arm spinner, who took 5/14 and 4/20 against Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe respectively, struck some lusty blows and scored 33 off 45 before becoming Musa’s second wicket of the day.