India v Pakistan, ICC U-19 World Cup, quarter-final, Townsville August 20, 2012

India clinch low-scoring thriller

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India 137 for 9 (Aparajith 51, Zia-ul-Haq 3-23, Azizullah 3-30) beat Pakistan 136 (Azam 50, Sandeep 3-24, Ravikant 3-43) by one wicket
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Harmeet Singh and Sandeep Sharma, India's Nos. 8 and 11, batted with incredible composure for seven overs to score the ten runs they needed to drag a misfiring batting line-up to a one-wicket victory against Pakistan in the quarter-final of the Under-19 World Cup. India were cruising one minute, at 120 for 5 needing 17 more, and were sinking the next, at 127 for 9. Harmeet and Sharma, however, saw to it that their consistent excellence with the ball in this tournament - they dismissed Pakistan so cheaply - was not in vain.

It so nearly was, though. Needing only 137 to secure a place in Thursday's semi-final, India slipped to 8 for 3 in the chase. They needed one batsman to drop anchor and stay the course and their No. 3, Baba Aparajith, did that. He had a partnership of 68 for the fourth wicket with Vijay Zol that put India on course. Aparajith went on to score 51 and, with him batting so fluently, India moved slowly but surely towards their target. The required rate was never an issue; wickets were, but five were in hand.

Then Aparajith drove one in the air and was caught at cover, with India 17 short. In no time at all Smit Patel edged Ehsan Adil to the wicketkeeper and Azizullah dismissed two more batsmen in the 41st over. Only one more Indian wicket stood between Pakistan and victory.

Harmeet, who missed India's last two league games because of an illness but replaced Vikas Mishra today, took charge. Sharma batted cautiously, blocking out an entire over from the spinner Zafar Gohar. Harmeet, the more competent batsman, was astute enough to see off Azizullah's final over, which meant Babar Azam had no more seam options to call on.

Runs came at Chinese water-torture pace, but the batsmen were unruffled. Harmeet and Sandeep blocked and blocked, and occasionally they dabbed for a single or two. Every ball survived was cheered by a small but vocal group of Indian supporters. Even when the target was within the reach of one lofted blow and all the fielders were in the circle, Sandeep did not do anything rash. He left it to Harmeet, who eventually chipped over square leg, ran the second run and then ran into 13 team-mates sprinting towards him.

As Sharma joined in the celebrations, he could have scarcely believed that it had come to this, especially after the hammer blow he had hit Pakistan with early in the morning. Most teams have preferred to bowl first at Tony Ireland Stadium but Pakistan chose to bat on an overcast and drizzly day in Townsville - a brave approach considering it was their first game here and batting has been hardest in the morning. Their decision backfired.

Sharma, who has swung the new ball both ways prodigiously in every game, struck with the first delivery of the match. He bowled a good length and pitched on legstump, drawing the left-hand opener Sami Aslam into the front-foot defence. Sharma got the ball to swing sharply just outside off and hit the edge, giving Aparajith a regulation catch at second slip. Four balls later, the same thing happened to Imam-ul-Haq, another left-hand batsman. Pakistan were 0 for 2.

Barely five minutes had passed since the start, so Pakistan's No. 4 Umar Waheed wasn't fully padded up. He and the other opener, the captain Babar Azam, had a monumental repair job to do and they began it with composure. But Sharma and India's other new-ball bowler, Kamal Passi, were there and thereabouts all the time, and Pakistan were 27 for 2 after ten overs.

Harmeet came on in the 15th over and caused a stir immediately. His first ball hit Umar Waheed on the pad and the lbw appeal was turned down, after which Waheed could have been run out had Smit Patel hit the stumps. Waheed appeared shaken and Azam went up to him to have a word. The next ball from Harmeet was lofted towards the midwicket boundary.

Ravikant had a patchy first four overs, bowling several wides, but began to wreck Pakistan's innings in his fifth. He got Waheed to edge behind, and in his next over he bowled Saad Ali and had Salman Afridi caught behind as well. Harmeet had Mohammad Nawaz caught at slip soon after. Pakistan had lost 4 for 7 to slip to 62 for 6.

Through all this, Azam had batted with concentration, holding his end up as wickets tumbled at the other. He was dropped on 36, though, by Harmeet, soon after a rain interruption. Aparajith ensured that error didn't cost India too many, having Azam caught at midwicket soon after his half-century. The batsman was distraught, having been dismissed to a tame chip after battling through tougher times.

Pakistan were 99 for 8 after a second rain break and Adil hit four sixes to lift them to 136. Two of those were massive blows, clearing the longest boundary at midwicket and then the sight screen. India's seamers, however, came back to finish the innings off, Sharma picking up the tenth wicket with the first ball of the 46th over.

A couple of hours later, Sharma was in the middle again, striving to prevent India's tenth wicket from falling. The gut-wrenching end was the third such finish between India and Pakistan's Under-19 teams this year. In an Asia Cup league game, Pakistan had won by one run. The final of that tournament was tied. The third time, it was India that scraped through by the narrowest of margins.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on August 23, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    Pakistan cricket has finished just like hockey and squash. So stop wasting money to allocate improvement on these sports and cut back facilities. Invest money on other individual sports like boxing, wrestling and shooting.

  • kc69 on August 22, 2012, 21:51 GMT

    A great game of cricket,But i would not quite agree with most of you guys here.Pakistan needs Batsman and India needs bowlers and the same old thing happened in this match also.Future for crictet(Both teams)is not so good as it looks.

  • kc69 on August 22, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    @Umar Siddiqui: I'm not taking sides and completely agree with your stats that Pakistan "had" beaten India more frequently in the past and i agree they have the best pace bowling attack in entire subcontinent but overseas record is what i doubt on because Pakistan's record in Aus,Eng,NZ and SA are bad(If you consider playing at Abu Dhabi as overseas then i cannot comment furthur).However this match was a great one.hats off to both the teams.

  • dummy4fb on August 22, 2012, 11:16 GMT

    @ Umar Siddiqui

    Forget the past and look in your future. Do you remember when pak won his last match against India? We won't need 140+ bowlers, our 120+ bowlers are enough for all teams. And go and watch the stats of overseas tour, You will get to know who played good cricket. And whole world knows why we refused to play at sharjaha, so no need to comment on that. I don't want to criticize pak team, take it as sports. We both know our teams are top teams of cricket so why to abuse our teams.

  • BHAARATVARSH on August 22, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    @Umar Siddiqui - Don't forget that the same old gentle120K bowlers and "average batsmen" have been beating Pakistan for decades in every world cup match :))

  • Professor.Biscuit.Khan on August 22, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    @ Umar Siddiqui - And your "future stars" couldn't even play Sandeep Sharma (ordinary bowler according to you) ? That says it all how good your batsmen are but yeah Pak bowlers have potential.

  • Umair_umair on August 22, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    I would like to congratulate Pak and Indian Fans for constructive comments. Nice sports man ship? All the people, who read my comment here. Can we promise to keep this ethic in our future comments too? keep cool and discuss the game, keep anger in control ? don't use abusive and hate language? A lot fo drops can come togather to make a sea.

  • dummy4fb on August 22, 2012, 1:01 GMT

    @Counter strike, As Ian Chappel said, Sandeep Sharma is another Praveen Kumar in the making and that says it all but yes Chand has some potential.

    @MunafBhai - A case of sour grapes perhaps?I think Pakistan is way ahead in the overall head to head both in ODIs and Test matches........I think you completely forgot the thrashings India received all throughout the 90s so much so that they got scared of playing in Sharjah

    @Bruise - I agree that India has alot of talent in the batting department but no international class bowlers are comign through and I don't mind young bowlers getting thrashed in meaningless ODIs as long as they keep coming back with a big heart to bowl fast......When I say pace, I don't mean express pace, atleast a fast bowler should bowl in 140s to trouble international class batsmen....Ever wonder why India always gets thrashed abroad why Pakistan has such a good record overseas?

  • Bruisers on August 21, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    @Umar Siddiqui - I don't quite understand your logic of rating bowlers based on their speeds. The whole world saw your 'fast' bowling prodigies Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali etc getting hammered recently.. Clearly, PACE isn't everything for a bowler or is it? LOL

  • Bruisers on August 21, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    @Umar Siddiqui - Under-19 doesn't always display the future international cricketers. Most of today's international cricketers have never played U19 for their countries... Yes, its easy to make it to the Pakistan senior side as they currently have very few good batsmen and bowlers. But in India, top players like Pujara and Rahane are struggling to make it to the playing XI. Shows the quality and depth in talent India possesses unlike Pakistan. Anyways Chand, Zol and Aparajith may play for the senior team in the future.

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