ICC Men’s U19 World Cup: Unbeaten India firm favourites in semifinal clash against South Africa

Red-hot India will be firm favourites to book a place in the summit clash of the ongoing U-19 World Cup when it takes on hosts South Africa in the first semifinal on Tuesday.

Published : Feb 05, 2024 15:59 IST , Benoni - 3 MINS READ

India’s Musheer Khan.
India’s Musheer Khan. | Photo Credit: ICC

India’s Musheer Khan. | Photo Credit: ICC

Red-hot India will be firm favourites to book a place in the summit clash of the ongoing U-19 World Cup when it takes on hosts South Africa in the first semifinal here on Tuesday.

Defending champions India has marched on into the semifinals on the back of five consecutive wins in the tournament, with its exciting talent putting up a fine all-round show to ensure their dominance.

Across departments, it will be tough to point out a singular force behind India’s juggernaut, particularly in the last few games.

If the batters have buried the opponents under a mountain of runs, the bowlers have delivered wins that have exceeded a minimum of 130 runs in terms of margins.

With two centuries and a fifty, the 18-year-old Musheer Khan has lit up the tournament as he sits atop the list of batters with the most runs in this edition, amassing 334 runs in five outings at 83.50.

READ | IND vs ENG, 2nd Test

Hot on his heels is India skipper Uday Saharan, who has led by example to rake up 304 runs with two fifties and a ton while averaging 61.60.

Sachin Dhas has also given a fine example of himself, hitting a 116 in India’s last Super Six game against Nepal after his side was put in a spot of bother at 62 for three.

Each of India’s opponents has hitherto found it difficult to score runs off India vice-captain and left-arm spinner Saumy Kumar Pandey, whose enviable economy rate of 2.17 has helped him snare 16 wickets with three four-fors, placing him third in the list of most successful bowlers in this World Cup.

Pandey’s ability to keep a lid on the opposition batters with suffocating lines and lengths in the powerplay has allowed India to dominate the proceedings with the ball in hand.

Pandey’s accuracy has also aided the seamers, with Naman Tiwari (9 wickets) and Raj Limbani (4 wickets) thriving from the other end.

Besides India’s winning run, its recent success against South Africa also makes it favourites to book a place in the final, which could witness a possible blockbuster India-Pakistan clash.

Pakistan will take on Australia in the second semifinal here at Willowmoore Park.

Before embarking on the World Cup campaign, India had crushed South Africa in two consecutive ODIs of the Tri-Nation Series while chasing, something which will give the Saharan-led side confidence.

However, the knockout games bring a different kind of pressure, and the first semifinal could be a battle between India’s in-form batters and the on-song South African pacer Kwena Maphaka.

With three five-wicket hauls in five games, Maphaka has not only topped the charts among bowlers with 18 scalps, but he has single-handedly set up South Africa’s commanding wins in the last two games. The left-arm pacer ran through Sri Lanka with 6/21 in South Africa’s last Super Six game.

Teams (from)

India: Uday Saharan (c), Arshin Kulkarni, Adarsh Singh, Rudra Mayur Patel, Sachin Dhas, Priyanshu Moliya, Musheer Khan, Aravelly Avanish Rao (wk), Saumy Kumar Pandey, Murugan Abhishek, Innesh Mahajan (wk), Dhanush Gowda, Aaradhya Shukla, Raj Limbani and Naman Tiwari.

South Africa: Juan James (c), Esosa Aihevba, Raeeq Daniels, Kwena Maphaka, Dewan Marais, Nqobani Mokoena, Riley Norton, Romashan Pillay, Sipho Potsane, Ntando Zuma (wk), Lhuan-dre Pretorius (wk), Richard Seletswane, Steve Stolk, David Teeger, Oliver Whitehead.

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