India has clinched a fifth consecutive U19 World Cup final berth with a thrilling victory over the host side South Africa, triumphing by two wickets in a gripping first semi-final clash held in Benoni.
Indian captain Uday Saharan won the toss and chose to field first, which was the first time in the tournament that India decided to bowl first. Previously, they had batted first in all five games.
The home team didn’t start well, losing Steve Stolk (14) and David Teeger (0) early on, with only 46 runs on the board during the batting powerplay.
However, Richard Seletswane joined Lhuan-dre Pretorius and stabilized the innings with a solid partnership. They added 72 runs before Seletswane got out in the 31st over.
Pretorius was South Africa’s top scorer with 76 runs off 102 balls, including six boundaries and three sixes. Seletswane also played well and scored 64 runs off 100 balls with four boundaries and two sixes.
Tristan Luus contributed a quick 23 runs off just 12 balls towards the end of South Africa’s innings, which ended the Proteas innings at 244-7 in 50 overs.
Chasing a target of 245 to reach the U19 World Cup final, the defending champions scored 248 runs for the loss of eight wickets with seven balls to spare.
India had a tough start, losing four wickets for just 32 runs in 11.2 overs. However, captain Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas turned things around with a remarkable partnership of 171 runs.
Moreover, Dhas was the main aggressor, scoring 96 runs off 95 balls with 11 boundaries and a six in which he fell just short of a century, and the skipper played sensibly and scored 81 runs off 124 balls with six boundaries.
Meanwhile, semi-final 2 of the tournament will be played between Pakistan and Australia tomorrow, and India will now face either Pakistan or Australia in the U19 World Cup final on Sunday.