U-19 WC 2016: Ishan”s India storm into the finals: An upbeat India Under-19 continued their momentum in the ICC Under-19 World Cup with an emphatic 97-run victory over their Sri Lankan counterparts in the first Semi-Final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Tuesday.
Having won the toss, Sri Lankan U-19 skipper Charith Asalanka elected to field first on what looked like a dubious natured wicket. And conjectures pertaining to the behaviour of the track proved to be spot on as the Indian top order faced early hiccups against the Lankan pacers who seemed to make good use of the springy wicket that was in offer. The Indian opening duo of Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant started off the innings with a tinge of mindfulness. Ashitha Fernando, who had been Sri Lanka’s premier fast bowler in the tournament, drew first blood by removing the in-form Pant for 14 (off 28 balls) in the 9th over of the Indian innings when the latter was caught behind by wicket-keeper Randika de Silva while fishing a ball outside off-stump. Next to go was the Indian skipper himself (7 off 25 balls) who fell prey to a bait set outside off-stump by Lahiru Kumara which presented an easy catch for de Silva in the very next over. The onus of steadying the unstable Indian ship thereby shifted to the new pair of Anmolpreet Singh and Sarfaraz Khan, both of whom were fresh from a good outing against Namibia Under-19 in the Quarter-Final. They battled out an arduous phase when runs had become difficult to come by, negotiated the hostile spells from Fernando and Kumara before lashing out at their spinners and beginning to gather momentum for a potential blitz from the lower middle order.
They succeeded in consolidating the Indian innings and stitched together a healthy partnership worth 96 runs which ensured they were right back on track. Sarfaraz caressed quite a few boundaries through cuts and slog sweeps en route to his 59 off 71 balls (his fourth fifty in the on-going edition) before perishing to Asitha Fernando for a miscued hook over mid-on in the 31st over. The 18 year old right handed batsman from Mumbai (even though he now plays for Uttar Pradesh in the domestic circuit) has amassed 304 runs in the tournament at a fabulous average of 61.66 and an equally fiery Strike Rate of 98.39. He is currently the second highest run getter in this edition and needs another 6 runs to surpass the first placed Jack Burnham from England. Sarfaraz also reached the distinct milestone of completing 1,000 ODI runs in Under-19 Cricket. In the meantime, Anmolpreet, who played an instrumental part in India’s valiant Quarter-Final triumph, recorded his second consecutive fifty off 69 balls with the help of a wristy flick through mid-wicket. The teenager from Punjab was given a second life when dropped on 32 at cover which probably tilted the game big time in India’s favour. Anmolpreet’s antics finally reached a conclusion when an unsuccessful ramp off Thilan Nimesh resulted in a meek catch for de Silva. However, replays suggested that the ball had come off his sleeve. Towards the back end of the first innings, Washington Sundar chipped in with a handy 45-ball 43 and was ably aided by the likes of Armaan Jaffer (29 off 16 deliveries), Mahipal Lomror (11 off 6 balls including a towering six) and Mayank Dagar (17 off 10 balls) who struck some lusty blows to lift the Indian total to a competitive 267/9 at the end of their allotted 50 overs.
In response to the Indian innings, the Lankan Future Stars suffered a setback when Madhya Pradesh’s medium pacer Avesh Khan had opener Avishka Fernando (4 off 5 balls) LBW, plumb in front in the very first over.
Things further worsened for the Lankans as their other opener, Kaveen Bandara (2) was run out by Sarfaraz Khan soon after owing to a terrible mix up between the wickets. Terror struck again in the 10th over of the Sri Lankan innings when a mistimed pull from Lankan Captain Charith Asalanka’s bat off pacer Rahul Batham’s bowling saw Mahipal Lomror run splendidly from mid-on to deep to grab a blinder. The Lankans were desperately in search of a partnership at that stage. The middle-order pair of Shammu Ashan and Kamindu Mendis was required to compensate for the top order’s failure but a disciplined bowling effort from Rahul Dravid’s colts meant they could not pile up more than 49 runs in 13.5 overs. Their lethargic batting display was brought to end by left arm spinner Mayank Dagar when he dismissed Mendis for 39 (off 67 balls) in the 23rd over; thanks to a tidy catch by Washington Sundar at short fine leg. Shammu Ashan followed suit as he was shown the way back to the pavilion- courtesy an effective run out by Ishan Kishan whose poor fielding had gifted the batsman a boundary the previous delivery. With the passage of time, the chinks in Sri Lanka’s armour became more evident as Vishad Randika and Wanindu Hasaranga were scalped in the space of just three overs, which left Sri Lanka languishing at 149/7. An Indian victory looked like a mere formality at that juncture and Mayank Dagar did his job competently by cleaning up the Lankan tail and finishing with figures of 3/21. Avesh Khan, Khaleel Ahmed and Rahul Batham picked up a wicket a piece. Avesh is now the fourth highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 11 wickets and needs 2 more wickets in the final to chisel his way through to the top. Anmolpreet Singh was adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’ for his gritty 72 off 92 deliveries, which laid the foundation for an Indian win. This is the fifth time India has progressed to the final of this competition, out of which they have clinched the title thrice.
They will play the winner of the second Semi-Final between West Indies Under-19 and hosts Bangladesh Under-19 in the final at Mirpur on 14th February, Sunday..
|INDIA 267/9 (50 overs)
Anmolpreet Singh 72 (92 balls)
Asitha Fernando 4/43 (10 overs)
| SRI LANKA 170 (42.4 overs)
Kamindu Mendis 36 (67 balls)
Mayank Dagar 3/21 (5.4 overs)