India holds its nerve to reach second successive final
by International Cricket Council

Scorecard:England Under-19s v Sri Lanka Under-19s, India Under-19s v New Zealand Under-19s, Papua New Guinea Under-19s v West Indies Under-19s
Event:ICC Under-19 World Cup 2007/08

DateLine: 28th February 2008


India’s young players showed themselves to be capable of handling the intense pressure of knock-out cricket on Wednesday as Dav Whatmore’s charges saw off a spirited challenge from New Zealand in a conclusion that must have jangled every nerve they possessed.


Victory by three wickets under the Kinrara Oval floodlights means India progress unbeaten to Sunday’s final where it will face either Pakistan or South Africa and where it can help to exorcise the demons of two years ago when it fell at the final hurdle in Colombo.


But this win did not come without its worrying moments for India. Courageous batting – particularly from Corey Anderson, whose swashbuckling 70 allowed New Zealand to post a competitive total of 205-8 – tight bowling and some committed fielding heaped the pressure on Virat Kohli and his team-mates.


But Kohli himself showed fine leadership qualities, hitting a crucial 43 in the middle overs having impressed with the ball earlier in the day, taking 2-27 with his niggling brand of right-arm medium pace.


Shortly after the India innings had begun the lightning bolted, thunder crashed and the heavens opened as the sun set on the KL skyline. But the hard-working groundstaff at Kinrara Oval did a great job and, along with the state-of-the-art drainage system in place at the ground, the deluge had hardly any effect and once the rain stopped play resumed within 20 minutes.


With the India innings reduced to 43 overs, the target was revised down to 191 and New Zealand began well taking the wickets of Taruwar Kohli and Tanmay Srivastava (to a stunning one-handed catch by Anderson) with just 40 on the board. But the skipper and Shreevats Goswami built a strong partnership worth 84 and seemed to have the game wrapped up.


But no one told New Zealand to give up – or if they did, the order fell on deaf ears – as Kane Williamson and his team fought all the way. Tim Southee bowled beautifully when he came back on and he and Trent Boult picked up three late wickets to make the India team sweat.


But the job was eventually done by Saurabh Tiwary (29 not out) and Pradeep Sangwan (5 not out) who reached the target with nine balls to spare much to the delight of the majority of the sizable crowd that gathered for this thrilling day/night game.


Meanwhile, in the Plate Championship, West Indies will face defending champion Nepal in Saturday’s final after easily overcoming the challenge of Papua New Guinea at MPTI in Johor.


Despite winning the toss and electing to bat, PNG never really got into the swing of things with the West Indies’ bowlers very much on top from the start. It was a real team effort from a bowling point of view with Delorn Johnson, Nkrumah Bonner and man of the match Shamarh Brooks each picking up two wickets as PNG was all out for 89.


In reply, the West Indies did not hesitate on the way to winning the match. Kieran Powell wasted little time and accumulated his 37 runs in just 37 balls in a knock that included four fours and a six. Lao Nou (2-8) bowled well when he came on but by then it was really too late and the West Indies got home with six wickets to spare in just 15.3 overs.


Larry Gomes’ team will now move to Kuala Lumpur for the Plate Championship final at Bayuemas on Saturday. With the talent the West Indies has in the team, it will undoubtedly go into that match as favourite but its opponent Nepal is partial to causing an upset or two and could prove to be a worthy adversary.


Two years ago, Nepal overcame South Africa and New Zealand among others to secure the Plate title and so far this year Paras Khadka and his men have added Zimbabwe to its list of Full Member scalps.


England went some way to making up for a disappointing defeat to India in the Super League semi-final by registering an exciting eight-run win (on D-L method) in an enthralling game with Sri Lanka at Royal Selangor Club.


Batting first, Sri Lanka started poorly, stuttering to 10-2 before Lahiru Thirimanne and Kusal Perera put together the first decent partnership of the day to rescue the situation.


In the end, Sri Lanka managed to get to a highly competitive 241-5 in 50 overs thanks mostly to Sachith Pathirana, who made a magnificent 97 off 91 balls, in a knock that included five fours and two sixes.


Pathirana was assisted along the way by captain Ashan Subasinghe (54) and Thirimanne, who ended up with 47.


England’s reply started well with James Taylor and Billy Godleman putting on 75 for the first wicket. England’s top and middle-order put in the sort of performance that was lacking in the crucial Group D game against Bangladesh and the quarter-final against India with Tom Westley (58) and Sam Northeast (45 not out) making sure England never fell behind in the Duckworth-Lewis calculations.


In the end, that was vital as rain delayed the match to the point where England’s innings was reduced and when it resumed England was always in the driving seat and ended up getting home by eight runs on the D-L method.


So on Saturday, England will play the winner of Thursday’s other Super League play-off semi-final between Bangladesh and Australia at Bayuemas.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2008 International Cricket Council)


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