Chand, Passi seal easy win for India
India Under-19 261 for 6 (Chand 78, Chopra 57, Light 3-22) beat Zimbabwe Under-19 198 (Lake 118, Passi 6-23) by 63 runs
India's openers performed far better against Zimbabwe than they did against West Indies, setting up a platform for a match-winning score despite a middle-order slowdown at Tony Ireland Stadium. In a match they had to win to stay in theUnder-19 World Cup, Unmukt Chand and Prashant Chopra delivered a 139-run partnership, and a last-over thrash from medium-pacer Kamal Passi converted an average total into a competitive one.
Passi carried the momentum from his five-ball 24 through the lunch break and into his bowling, taking the first four wickets to fall during a six-over spell thatseverely set back the Zimbabwe chase. At 30 for 4 in the 12th over, there was too much lost ground to recover, and although allrounder Malcolm Lake scored a century that gave India a scare, he had no support and Zimbabwe were dismissed 63 runs short. Passi returned to take two important wickets during the final ten overs, finishing with 6 for 23.
India made two changes to their XI from after the loss to West Indies. Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh was unwell and medium-pacer Rush Kalaria was left out. Their spots went to Passi and Ravikant Singh, the third seam bowler. Chand lost the toss once again and Zimbabwe chose to bowl on a fresh pitch, the one closest to the grandstand. It meant one square boundary was significantly shorter than the other.
Zimbabwe's new-ball bowlers, Kyle Bowie and Curthbert Musoko, didn't have the pace to harry the India openers and they pitched too full too often. Chand was able to drive his first ball, from Bowie, to the cover boundary. Chopra began more slowly, getting his eye in before cutting a short ball from Musoko to the point fence.
Unlike against Ronsford Beaton and the other West Indians, India's openers were able to come on to the front foot, and were also given width when the length was short. The powerful drives and cuts began to flow and after ten overs, India were 56 for 0 with 12 fours, 11 on the off side, one on the leg. In the 11th, Chand upper cut Luke Jongwe, as soon as he came on to bowl, over the shorter point boundary. In the 20th, he hoisted Musoko on to the top of the grass banks beyond the wide long-on boundary to take India to 115 for 0.
Both openers made half-centuries, Chand off 46 balls and Chopra off 70, and it wasn't until Zimbabwe brought on their fourth bowler, Lake, that they got a breakthrough. Lake caught a skier off his own bowling after Chopra top-edged a pull against the short ball. Chand fell in the 30th over, lofting the legspinner Peacemore Zimwa to long-off, and India slowed down drastically after that.
Lake continued to keep the batsmen in their crease with his length and Campbell Light, who was introduced only in the 40th over, dismissed three more batsmen with short balls. India were only 237 for 5 at the start of the final over, for which Musoko replaced Light, and lost Vijay Zol to its first ball.
Passi took guard and then began to swing at everything. He made good contact too. The ball disappeared to the midwicket and fine-leg boundary repeatedly and that flourish brought 24 runs.
Forty-five minutes later, Passi was in action again. He got Kevin Kasuza to edge a short ball to the wicketkeeper, bowled Massasire with a full one that swung, had Matthew Bentley caught behind with a bouncer, and Ryan Burl pulling to the man at deep midwicket. His first spell was 7-1-15-4.
After Passi left centre stage, Lake occupied it, single-handedly reviving a cause that was almost lost by the 14th over. A left-hand batsman, Lake stayed firm at one end, adding 87 runs for the fifth wicket, with Luke Jongwe, to give Zimbabwe hope. Jongwe was run out in the 32nd over, though, and Lake sat on his haunches in disappointment. He stepped it up after that, hitting four fours and two sixes in the 36th and 37th overs. Sandeep Sharma, however, bounced back from that beating by dismissing Mayavo in a two-run over, leaving Zimbabwe needing 94 in 12 overs with three wickets left.
As he began to run out of partners, Lake tried to farm the strike as well, but the task ahead of him was too much for one person. Passi, in the first over of his second spell, trapped Bowie lbw for a first-ball duck, and in his next had Lake caught at cover. The two best performers from each team had the final say in the game.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo