Yashasvi Jaiswal century leads India to third straight Under-19 World Cup final
Pakistan saw a collapse of 6 for 26 as left-arm quick Sushant Mishra took 3 for 28
India Under-19 176 for 0 (Jaiswal 105*, Saxena 59*) beat Pakistan Under-19 172 (Nazir 62, Haider 56, Mishra 3-28, Tyagi 2-32, Bishnoi 2-46) by 10 wickets
Having been deflated with a collapse of 6 for 26, Pakistan Under-19 could pose no challenge to the India Under-19 opening pair of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Divyaansh Saxena, who shared an unbeaten stand of 176 to lead the defending champions to a thumping ten-wicket win in the first semi-final of the Under-19 World Cup in Potchefstroom. India's victory took them to their third straight final and closer to a fifth Under-19 World Cup title; they will play the winner of New Zealand and Bangladesh in the final on February 9. Jaiswal reached his first hundred in the tournament with a six to seal India's win while Saxena remained unbeaten on 59. Pakistan, who opted to bat, seemed on course for a respectable total as their opener Haider Ali and captain Rohail Nazir put on a half-century stand for the third wicket. The duo helped Pakistan recover from 34 for 2 in the ninth over, but Haider fell soon after reaching his fifty while trying to cut part-timer Jaiswal. At 96 for 3 in the 26th over, Haider's wicket pegged Pakistan's progress significantly, as Nazir saw four more wickets fall in front of him. India's two quicks Sushant Mishra and Kartik Tyagi did most of the damage - sharing five wickets between them - while legspinner Ravi Bishnoi finished with two from his 10 overs.
Pakistan's collapse began in the 35th over, with the score at 146 for 4, and it took a spectacular effort from Saxena at deep square leg to trigger the slide. Mohammad Haris' sweep off left-arm spinner Atharva Ankolekar seemed destined for a one-bounce four, but Saxena ran across and dived full length to complete the catch just inches from the ground. That effort pushed the other India players to raise their game, and Tyagi delivered a yorker three overs later to bowl Irfan Khan. Only five balls later, Bishnoi trapped Abbas Afridi lbw with a contentious decision as Pakistan slumped to 163 for 7. Nazir was dismissed for 62 three overs later and by the 44th over, they were bowled out for 172.
India's chase started with caution, with Saxena and Jaiswal scoring at under four per over for the first 15 overs. They played out the new ball under overcast conditions with a strong crosswind blowing across the ground, offering no chance for Pakistan to come back into the game via an early wicket.
After Jaiswal got his fifty off 66 balls in the 22nd over, he started using his feet against the spinners to hit over long-on or pull the pacers behind square. Saxena stroked the ball along the ground for the most of his innings, letting Jaiswal be the aggressor. Saxena reached his fifty in the 30th over by driving to deep cover off 83 balls and the asking rate had now come down to two runs per over. Saxena hit six fours while Jaiswal struck eight fours and four sixes, including one that brought up his hundred and India's victory. After sealing the chase, Jaiswal raised both arms in the air, looked upwards and kissed the chain around his neck.
Nazir praised India's bowlers for their effort but said that Pakistan's batsmen failed to live up to their potential.
"It's hard, but cricket is all about the game. One team wins, and we didn't play good cricket today. India were better in the field and with their bowling. They outclassed us," Nazir said in the post-match press conference. "When me and Haider were batting, we were going really nice. But after Haider's wicket, we didn't build partnerships.
"That's the reason why our batting line-up could not get the big runs. With the batting, our shot selection was poor in the crucial time. Three middle-order wickets fell cheaply in crunch situations. Because there weren't enough runs on the board, our bowlers could not penetrate either."
The game had the best attendance of all the matches in the tournament thus far, with Pakistan supporters twice as many as India's. Chants, both of the friendly and not-so-friendly kind, rang through the JB Marks Oval from both sides, the Pakistani voices diminishing as the game progressed. India have now pulled level with Pakistan as far as the sides' Under-19 World Cup head-to-head record goes. Jaiswal is leading this edition's run-scoring charts, having earned his fourth 50-plus score in five games. India's victory was also the first ten-wicket win in the history of Under-19 World Cup (non-Plate) knockouts.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo