India v NZ, ICC Under-19 World Cup, 2nd semi-final August 22, 2012

We need to build on starts - Chand

India have made it to the semi-final of the Under-19 World Cup in Townsville despite their batting unit performing well below potential. Their bowlers have brought them this far, defending targets in two group games and dismissing Pakistan for 136 in the quarter-final. They've also done the batsmen's job twice: Kamal Passi making 24 off five balls to reach a competitive total against Zimbabwe, and Harmeet Singh and Sandeep Sharma adding a nerve-shredding 10 for the last wicket to eliminate Pakistan.

Five of India's top seven batsmen have made half-centuries in the tournament but no one averages over 40. Vijay Zol, who has 150 runs in four innings, is the best with 37.50. Three of the batsmen who went past 50 did not make it past 60. The highest score is Unmukt Chand's 78 against Zimbabwe. What India need against a New Zealand side that will not willingly yield an inch is for batsmen to perform collectively and for them to not stop soon after getting a half-century.

"Each one has clicked at different times, but we have not clicked together, now it's just a question of mental preparation," India's coach Bharat Arun said. "Good thing is, each and every one of them is confident, they've got some knocks at different points. It's time for them to come together on the big occasion."

Batsmen from most teams have struggled in Townsville, especially at the Tony Ireland Stadium, and especially against the new ball. India were 34 for 3 against West Indies, 139 for 0 against Zimbabwe, 98 for 5 against Papua New Guinea and 8 for 3 against Pakistan.

"They have seen it for themselves," Arun said when asked if the top-order batsmen had learned from Harmeet and Sandeep's straight-bat and patient approach against Pakistan. "We have learnt from our mistakes, seen our videos. Hopefully we'll offset all those things that we've done.

"It is about understanding the conditions, no matter how many times you played there, there's always something in it for the bowlers. I guess each and every one [of the batsmen] understands that you cannot dominate from the word go. You need to settle down and then you will be able to do something on this wicket. The batsmen have realised that; hopefully they [will] come good."

Chand, being an opening batsman, along with Prashant Chopra, has had the hardest job of getting past the new ball, which he's managed to do twice. Against West Indies, Chand batted until the 20th over to score 22, and against Zimbabwe he made a half-century. He spoke of the importance of battling through the first 15-20 overs, saying even a run-rate as low as two or three was no problem if the wickets had been protected.

"It [batting] does get easier once the ball stops doing its bit [after 15-20 overs]," Chand said. "You need to apply yourself, which we have been lacking in ... if [those who have been playing well] can convert the starts into bigger ones and finish the game off, that can be really good for the team."

Like New Zealand, India also entered the final four after a tense victory, against Pakistan. With emotions running high over the last 36 hours, it was important for the team to soak in that achievement and then move past it. Chand said the team had successfully done so.

"Until yesterday [Tuesday] we were talking about the previous victory, there were calls from back home, so all that was there," Chand said. "From today, from the practice session, we are focussed on tomorrow's match. We want to leave Pakistan game as a memory."

India will hope their batsmen stop adding to their bowlers' burden, so they'll be able to move past New Zealand, leave the semi-final as a memory, and set up a title clash against Australia on Sunday.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naresh on August 22, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    @Raj Sharma - jumping the gun. We have to play better than we have done so far to progress. This next game against NZ will shape the team going forward. We need a better batting performance. And as @nampally is saying patience is required.

  • Vinod on August 22, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    Good luck India....hoping for a gr8 game...Go Blues!!!!

  • Dummy4 on August 22, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    Very much looks like India is the team of destiny in this tournament the way the squeaked past Zimbabwe in the group match and against pakistan in the quarters Based on that India should defeat NZ because they also have the advantage of playing at Tony Ireland having already played thrice while NZ hasn't even once. So the only hurdle to clinch under WC for India is going to be Aussies in the finals But India can use better brains in winning in methodical fashion than just edging. Against Aussies, India has to be sharp and business like and NOT try to squeak by.

  • Ashok on August 22, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    Yes, the Indian top order batting needs to perform. They have tremendous talent but not enough concentration or patience. Sandeep & Harmeet brought them into the Semi final when the batsmen failed. Although Skipper Chand is talking about building on good start, in the last match he was the impatient guy who threw away his wicket - a poor start!. So first Chand & Chopra need to give the team a good start. Chand is a very good & aggressive batsman capable of scoring big. So he needs to lead by example. Aparajith, Zol & Patel are worthy of building on the start. In the bowling Sandeep was very impressive. Passi, Harmeet & Singh were also impressive. So India has good bowling to back a strong batting. They have to show up. The fielding in the last match was good with Aparajith taking 3 great slip catches to back his good batting. Aparajith is also a good 5th bowler. So India has it all. They have to keep cool and live up to their talent. Good Luck India. Need to rise to the occasion!.

  • Shiv on August 22, 2012, 17:44 GMT

    Good luck boys. You have done in the past and can do it again. Go India.

  • VaRUN on August 22, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    Mr Chand - Before you build on starts, the more important thing is to actually get a start. Please don't throw your wicket away in the first 2-3 overs like Mr Sehwag. He can afford to do it as he's answerable to no one and he has nothing to lose since nobody dare to even question him, as always in Indian sport when the individual's ego is bloated and they think they are Gods. Try to play 50 overs, that should be the only goal since the U-19 team has struggled to achieve that so far.

  • Dummy4 on August 22, 2012, 16:18 GMT

    India were lucky to get past Pakistan, but if the batsmen perform the same way against New Zealand, its game over for the Indian youngsters.

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