Chopra, Harmeet take India to final
India Under-19 209 for 9 (Chopra 52, Horne 3-28) beat New Zealand Under-19 200 for 9 (Fletcher 53, Harmeet 2-30) by 9 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Having disappointed for most of the World Cup, India's batting unit turned in a much-improved performance in the semi-final against New Zealand, while their bowlers continued their impressive form to set up a summit clash against Australia on Sunday. The top order set up a solid base, and despite a middle-order slump, India were able to get past 200, a total that has been difficult to chase at Tony Ireland Stadium.
New Zealand fought hard, though, consolidating after losing top-order wickets in a clutch, and steered themselves to a position from where they could launch an assault at the end, much like they did in the quarterfinal against West Indies. They were not allowed to. All the Indian bowlers held their own. With no weak link to exploit, New Zealand lost wickets in the search for momentum, and the gap between runs needed and balls remaining stayed wide enough to see India through. New Zealand needed 18 off the last over in this game as well; they got eight.
Like they did in the quarterfinal, India lost the toss and this time were sent in to bat by Will Young. The conditions weren't that bad - a flatter pitch and a sunnier morning - and after surviving a few jitters, Unmukt Chand and Prashant Chopra gave their team a start.
Chand was nervy in the first over, inside-edging past his stumps and playing and missing while trying to cover drive. He settled down soon, though, and began middling his drives when playing much closer to his body. Chopra was more confident at the start, getting behind the line to block out the new ball. However, as he struggled to find gaps to score, Chopra began to try innovations such as the ramp shot over the wicketkeeper. He missed four times and connected once and was 2 off 24 balls at one stage. He was also struck painfully on the box by Ed Nuttall and writhed in pain for a few minutes before getting back up to carry India forward.
The opening stand was worth 51, India's second best in the World Cup, when Chand was bowled by a slower ball from Connor Neynens, who had been driven to the straight and cover boundaries in his previous over, the 12th. Chopra carried on, forging another half-century partnership with Baba Aparajith, hitting the legspinner Ish Sodhi for a huge six over long-off.
Aparajith batted sensibly for the second consecutive innings, focusing on pushing the ball into gaps in the sizeable outfield and running hard. He maintained a healthy strike-rate despite hitting only two boundaries, while Chopra made up for his slow start with firm blows. They added 81 for the second wicket, the first time India have had consecutive half-century stands in five matches.
On 52, Chopra lofted Nuttall to wide mid-on only to see Young fly through the air with one hand outstretched and catch the ball. India were 132 for 2 and they lost ground after that, with the left-arm spinner Ben Horne taking 3 for 20 to help limit India to 209 for 9.
There wasn't as much swing for India's new ball bowlers but that did not prevent Sandeep Sharma and Kamal Passi from bowling tight lines and lengths. New Zealand did not lose early wickets, though, with Joe Carter doing most of the scoring. Michael Davidson took 16 balls to get off the mark.
After losing Davidson with the score on 29, New Zealand progressed to 53 for 1 when they lost three wickets in three overs and slipped to 63 for 4. They were always behind the chase after that. Harmeet Singh took two of those wickets with flighted deliveries that spun away from the right-hander. Horne closed the face and got the leading edge to point, and Young edged to slip. Between those dismissals, Ravikant Singh dismissed the well-set Carter for 30.
Harmeet and Aparajith slowed New Zealand down tremendously: Harmeet bowling slower and turning the ball, while Aparajith was flatter and more economical. Between them they took 3 for 59 in 20 overs.
There was a whiteboard in the New Zealand dug out that had the comparative scores for India and them for every five-over block. Harmeet and Aparajith bowled consecutive maidens and after the 35th, New Zealand were 115 for 4, needing 95 off 90 balls. India had been 136 for 2.
Though India did not finish as strongly as they would have liked when they batted, their bowlers ensured New Zealand were simply unable to accelerate. Their challenge ended when Sandeep bowled Cam Fletcher, who had batted solidly once again for 53, in the 48th over.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo