U-19 World Cup: Dhas, Saharan lead India to thrilling win over SA and into final | Cricket - Hindustan Times

U-19 World Cup: Dhas, Saharan lead India to thrilling win over SA and into final

By, New Delhi
Feb 06, 2024 11:37 PM IST

Dhas hit 96 and raised a record 171-run stand with his skipper, who made 81, to pull the holders out of trouble for a 2-wicket win in the semi-final.

India are in another U-19 World Cup final, their ninth overall and fifth successive shot at a title they have won a record five times. That streak seemed set to end when they were 32/4 in a run chase of 245 against hosts South Africa in testing conditions at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Tuesday.

Saharan exuded calm even as he played second fiddle(Getty Images)
Saharan exuded calm even as he played second fiddle(Getty Images)

But try telling that to Sachin Dhas and skipper Uday Saharan. Fresh from centuries and a 215-run stand in their previous game against Nepal, they complemented each other perfectly under extreme pressure, this time stitching together a record 171-run stand in 185 balls for the fifth wicket to lift India from despair and secure a nervy two-wicket victory. Dhas, born in 2005 and named after Sachin Tendulkar, smashed 96 off 95 balls (11x4, 1x6) while Saharan shepherded the chase with a composed 81 off 124 balls (6x4). India await the winner of the second semi-final between Australia and Pakistan.

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South Africa's new-ball pair of Kwena Maphaka and Tristan Luus -- taller and quicker than their Indian counterparts -- breathed fire in their opening spells, peppering the Indian batters with chin music on a surface seemingly tailor-made to their strengths. That the Indian batters had their task cut out was apparent from the outset as Maphaka got a well-directed short ball to climb on Adarsh Singh and find his outside edge off the first ball of the chase. Luus was just as hostile, dismissing Musheer Khan, Arshin Kulkarni and Priyanshu Moliya in a six-over burst that saw India move to 33/4 in 12 overs.

Once Maphaka and Luus were taken off the attack though, things became easier for India’s batters. The recovery was staged initially by Dhas, whose ability to play the horizontal-bat shots meant he could adeptly negotiate South Africa's shorter lengths. South Africa's second rung of pacers didn't pose as much of a threat either, allowing Dhas to nonchalantly pick the gaps on the leg side with his pull shots. When the ball was pitched up, Dhas was equally convincing. In the 18th over, for instance, three boundaries against Riley Norton included a sumptuous straight drive past the bowler. It was apt though that Dhas should bring up his half-century, off 47 balls, with a pull that dissected mid-on and midwicket.

Saharan exuded calm even as he played second fiddle. The 19-year-old from Punjab, who’s the leading run-getter in the tournament with 389 runs, has thrived in this role right through the tournament. Perhaps a throwback to an older generation of one-day batters, he has been able to soak in the pressure during the middle overs by milking ones and twos.

“I had belief in myself that I can do it, we needed just one partnership to cross the line. When the ball was new, we took some time but once it became old we played our shots,” Saharan said after the game. When India had the ball, their early breakthroughs came courtesy pacer Raj Limbani (3/60). South Africa got off to a decent

start with Steve Stolk nailing the pull shot twice against Limbani's shorter deliveries, but the swing bowler won the mini battle when he induced a nick from a length delivery wide of off-stump. Limbani removed David Teeger for a duck not long after, his trademark inswinger breaching the gap between bat and pad to hit middle-stump.

At 46/2, South Africa were under serious pressure, particularly No.4 Richard Seletswane whose highest score in the tournament before Tuesday was 33. Seletswane expectedly took his time early on even as opener Lhuan-dre Pretorius, who has modelled his game on Quinton de Kock, took it on himself to keep finding the boundary.

Like Stolk, Pretorius was severe on anything short, pulling left-arm pacer Naman Tiwari over square leg in the eighth over for

his first six of the game. In the very same over, Pretorius took a step down the track and dispatched a back-of-a-length delivery over midwicket for four. Pretorius eventually contributed 76 (102b, 6x4, 3x6) while Seletswane made a patient 64 (100b, 4x4, 2x6), providing the platform for a total that kept their bowlers in the hunt even if not quite enough.

Brief scores: South Africa U-19: 244/7 (Lhuan-dre Pretorius 76, Richard Seletswane 64, Raj Limbani 3/60. Musheer Khan 2/43); India

U-19 248/8 in 48.5 overs (Uday Saharan 81, Sachin Dhas 96, Kwena Maphaka 3/32, Tristan Luus 3/37).

India U-19 won by 2 wickets.

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    Vivek Krishnan is a sports journalist who enjoys covering cricket and football among other disciplines. He wanted to be a cricketer himself but has gladly settled for watching and writing on different sports.

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