The Under-19 World Cup had its first real humdinger as India and Pakistan played out yet another thriller on Monday. The tension normally associated with an Indo-Pak match was visible, and that became even more evident as India started making a mess of the small chase. The cool head of the Indian tailenders however ensured that they move into the semi-finals of the tournament.
After electing to bat, Pakistan had a horrendous start to the innings as they lost a wicket off the first ball itself. Things got even worse as Sandeep Sharma got another wicket off the fifth ball of the innings. Pakistan rebuilt slowly through their captain and reached 50 for the loss of those 2 wickets only. But once Ravikant Singh had Umar Waheed caught behind, the Pakistanis suffered a dramatic collapse. At 62/6 they looked down and out, but some lusty hitting by number 9, Ehsan Adil took the score to 136. A below par total, but still defendable for a mean pakistani pace attack.
India in reply started poorly as well losing their captain Unmukt Chand to a superlative catching effort on the boundary by Adil. The next ball Adil came onto bowl and got the second wicket for his side. And when Vihari departed for a duck the scorebook read 8/3. Vijay Zol and Baba Aparajith decided to see off the lethal opening bowling pair and bide their time. Once the spinners came into the attack, runs started coming a lot easier. The other looked to be taking their side to a comfortable victory when Zol had a brain freeze and ran himself out. Baba Aparajith however carried on untroubled and in the company of Smit Patel had the target well under control. With just 17 runs needed and 5 wickets in hand, India should have coasted to a victory. Zol played an irresponsible shot to be brilliantly caught at covers, and thereafter the famed Pakistani seamers got into the act again. The ball started reversing and the batsmen could barely connect with the ball. One wicket followed another and the target eventually became 10 runs with just 1 wicket left.
Harmeet Singh, an impressive left arm spinner from Mumbai showed some batting talent, and abundance of temperament, while the number 11 Sandeep Sharma too showed he had a good defence. The two of them kept nibbling at the target slowly, but surely. And with just 2 overs to go got their team across the line - albeit in dramatic fashion. Aparajith for his 4 catches, 50 runs and 1 wicket was adjudged the man of the match.