Christchurch: India reaffirmed their supremacy in age-group cricket as they walloped arch-rivals Pakistan by an incredible 203 runs to make it to their sixth ICC U-19 cricket World Cup final here today.
This is India's biggest win against Pakistan at the age group level as the gulf in standard was way too visible. India have won the tournament in 2000 (under Mohammed Kaif), 2008 (Virat Kohli), 2012 (Unmukt Chand) while losing two finals in 2006 (Cheteshwar Pujara) and 2016 (Ishan Kishan).
The immensely talented Shubhman Gill hit classy unbeaten 102 off 94 balls to guide India to 272 for 9 after winning the toss and then seamer Ishan Porel (4/17 in 6 overs) scythed through the Pakistan top-order with a terrific opening spell to help them bowl out for a mere 69 in 29.3 overs.
"It was an outstanding performance from the bowlers as well as the batsmen. I am very satisfied with the performance. I am expecting an exciting contest against Australia in the final. I would also like to thank the crowd for their support," skipper Prithvi Shaw said after the match.
The concerns whether multi crore IPL deals will be a distraction proved to be unfounded as 'Boys in Blue' followed their guru Rahul Dravid's instructions to the 'T' -- that World Cup semifinals is once in a lifetime opportunity while auctions happen every year.
Dravid's boys will now take on Australia in the summit clash on February 3 in what will be a repeat of the 2012 edition which India won in Australia. Under Dravid, the team has now reached back-to-back U-19 World Cup final.
India literally outclassed their bitter rivals as it turned out to be a no-contest in the end. Batting first, openers Prithvi Shaw (41 from 42 balls) and Manjot Kalra (47 from 70 balls) again laid the foundation with 89-run opening stand during which the skipper was the aggressor and Kalra the anchor.
But both were out in quick succession after which Gill took over to flay the Pakistani bowling attack with stylish strokeplay. With the pitch on the slower side, Gill got enough time to play the pull shot both in front and square of the wicket off pacers Arshad Iqbal, Shaheen Afridi and Musa Khan. There were flowing on-drives, the cheeky ramp shot as he worked on the extra bounce.
He also played a slog sweep of left-arm spinner Mohammed Taha. "I rate this innings very highly as it was against Pakistan. The pitch was on the slower side and it was not easy for strokeplay. I am happy to have got the Man of the Match award," Gill said after the match. Having bagged a Rs 1.8 crore deal from Kolkata Knight Riders, Gill was asked about his preferred format.
"I would like to play all three formats as adaptability is the key," said the player from Firozpur in Punjab. While defending the total, it was a walk in the park for the Indians as the Pakistanis once again found Shivam Mavi (4 -3-6-0) and Kamlesh Nagarkoti's (5-1-7-0) pace too hot to handle.
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The pressure created by then enabled Porel to get four quick wickets with skipper Shaw taking a couple of brilliant catches at gully. Once Pakistan were 28 for 4, the Indian slow bowlers came into the act with left-arm spinner Shiva Singh (2/20 in 8 overs) and off-break bowler Riyan Das (2/6 in 4 overs) blowing away the opposition lower order to win the match in no time. (PTI)