Townsville (Australia): India’s tailenders held their nerves in the tense dying moments to edge out arch-rivals Pakistan by one wicket in a low-scoring thriller to cruise into the semifinals of the under-19 World Cup here on Monday.
After dismissing Pakistan for a paltry 136, India made rough weather of a small target as they were reduced to 127 for nine in 41 overs after being in a comfortable 124 for six at one stage.
It was a nerve-wrecking final 25 minutes as Mumbai lad Harmeet Singh and number 11 Sandeep Sharma from Punjab held their nerves to eke out a narrow one-wicket win with two overs to spare at the Tony Ireland Stadium here.
The two tail-enders played out seven overs to score the remaining 10 runs as the Pakistanis applied pressure with their fielders closing in.
The victory came when Harmeet pulled Mohammad Nawaz towards the squareleg boundary to score two runs and take India to the victory target.
The victory shot triggered off scenes of wild celebration in the Indian camp as his teammates rushed onto the field to hug him.
India will now take on New Zealand in their semifinal on Thursday. New Zealand beat West Indies by three wickets in the other quarter-final match.
It must have personally been satisfying for both Sandeep and Harmeet who are dubbed as 'U-19 veterans' in their team as they were playing their second colts World Cup having been a part of the team in 2010 as well. India had then lost to Pakistan.
Credit should also be given to Baba Aparajith (51, 97 balls, 3x4) as his composed batting after initial jitters steadied the ship.
India were tottering at eight for three within the first five overs of their chase but Aprajith along with Vijay Zol (36) added a crucial 66 runs for the fourth wicket to ensure India's passage into the last four stage.
This was also a sweet revenge for Unmukt Chand and co as Pakistan had convincingly beaten India in the previous two meetings of the under-19 edition in 2006 and 2010.
Pakistan: 136 (Babar Azam 50, Sandeep Sharma 3/24, Ravikant Singh 3/43) India: 137/9 (Baba Aparajith 51, Vijay Zol 36, Zia-ul-Haq 3/23, Ehsan Adil 2/25, Azizullah 3/30); MoM: Baba Aparajith.