- now the three-time winner will meet Australia on Saturday at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui in Tauranga
Summary – India scored 272 for 9 , aided by Gill's 102 not out, Kalra's 47, and Shaw's 41; Pakistani pacer Musa took 4-67| Pakistan were all out for 69, with India's seamer Porel taking 4 for 17
Receiving his man-of-the-match award, Indian batter Shubman Gill summed it up. “It was a difficult pitch to bat on. So after we have put 272 runs on the board, I always knew our pacers and spinners will do the job.”
This was a young man, full of confidence and mighty assured of his and his team's skills.
And why wouldn't he.
He just converted his record-setting sixth consecutive half-century-plus score in youth ODIs into a match-wining 102, to help India storm into the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup final. Notably, and this has something to do with his team's coach, Rahul Dravid, Gill's innings had only 7 fours and no sixes, but his strike rate was 108.51.
This topped a glorious few days for one of the most promising young batters in India right now, who just few days back, along with his team-mates captain Prithvi Shaw, and pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi, fetched big money in the IPL 2018 auction.
Kolkata Knight Riders bought Gill for Rs 1.8 crore, Nagarkoti for 3.2 crore, and Mavi for 3 crore; while Shaw went to Delhi Daredevils for Rs 1.2 crore.
The match in question though was as one-sided as they come. In all fairness, the Pakistani team, which has had an on-off tournament [they lost the tournament opener to Afghanistan by 5 wickets], never really showed up.
As Captain Hasan Khan later conceded, his team dropped four catches and missed three run-outs, which if taken, would have made the match - at least competitive.
Among his bowlers, Muhammad Musa with figures of 4-67 and Arshad Iqbal with 3-51, were the only noteworthy performances.
But even then, 272, certainly a formidable total, was not impossible to achieve, considering Hagley Oval's short boundaries.
At least that's what Pakistan would have thought when it was their turn to bat.
What happened next was – a Ishan Porel's show. He is India's third seamer, who till now has been lurking in the shadow of the more prominent pace-twins Nagarkoti and Mavi. Porel will finally end up with figures of 4-17, getting four of the Pakistani's top five batters.
Though he had Shaw and Mavi to thank, who took three brilliant catches among them. Shaw took two diving to his left and right in the slips, while Mavi completed a stunning catch at the fine-leg boundary to dismiss opener Muhammad Zaid Alam.
Mavi, on his part, bowling three maidens in a row to start with, returned with figures of 6 runs in 4 overs. Nagarkoti (7 runs in 5 overs), Shiva Singh (2-20 in eight overs), and Parag (6 runs in 4 overs) were the other notable performances.
Now, while India will meet Australia on Saturday in the final, Pakistan will play Afghanistan for a third place play-off in Queenstown on Thursday.
India's road to the final
- a dominating campaign which started with India beating Australia by 100 runs, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe by 10 wickets, and then defeating Bangladesh in Queenstown in the quarter-final by 131 runs
It might end from where it all began, with India meeting Australia at Mount Maunganui in the final of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup on Saturday. And it will trigger some happy memories for the Indian team for sure, as it was at this very ground that they started their dominating campaign by beating the Aussies by 100 runs.
Game 1 – 7th match of the World Cup – India U19 won by 100 runs against Australia
Led by the captain Prithvi Shaw's 94 and Manjot Kalra's 86, India scored 328/7 in their allocated 50 overs. Then pacers Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti with returns of 3/45 (in 8.5 overs) and 3/29 (in 7 overs) respectively – who both clocked balls in excess of 140 kmph - wrapped up the Australians for 228. Batter Shubman Gill also started the tournament steadily with almost run-a-ball 63.
As India takes on Australia again, they would be wary of their opening batsman-cum-allrounder J Edwards who took 4-65, as well as top-scored with 73.
Game 2 – 11th match of the World Cup – India U19 won by 10 wickets against Papua New Guinea (PNG)
It was a mismatch to say the least. India, bowling first, finished PNG in 21.5 overs for just 64 runs. The rout was led by left-arm spinner Anukul Roy who returned with figures of 5 for 14 in 6.5 overs. Then India's openers Shaw and Kalra finished the game in 8 overs. It was the second consecutive half-century for the Indian captain who top-scored with 57.
Game 3 – 20th match of the World Cup – India U19 won by 10 wickets against Zimbabwe
Similar story was repeated when India met Zimbabwe in their last league match. Setting aside pre-match apprehensions that India might take this match lightly, having already booked their place in the knock-out stages, Team Blue won the match by 10 wickets with 170 balls remaining.
Roy came to the party again with figures of 4-20. Another left-arm spinner Abhishek Sharma took 2 for 22, while Shiva Singh – the third left-arm spinner of the side – conceded only 16 runs in his 8 overs.
India, then shuffled their batting order, and promoted Shubman Gill and wicket-keeper Harvik Desai to open the innings. The responded with unbeaten 90 and 56 respectively, to their names.
Quarter-final – India U19 won by 131 runs against Bangladesh
The pitch was treacherous. After all, it was the same one which saw Australia beating England by 31 runs just few days back, even though the Aussies scored only 127 runs. But this young Indian team – with 'The Wall' [Indian batting-legend Rahul Dravid] as their mentor and coach – has arguably the most exciting batting talent on display in the ongoing ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.
And three prominent among those came to the party on Friday against Bangladesh in Queenstown.
Captain Prithvi Shaw who again gave his team a solid start with a 54-ball-40, man-of-the-match Shubman Gill who top-scored with 86, and Abhishek Sharma with a half century of his own, ensured that Team Blue made a formidable 265/10 in 49.2 overs.
Not done yet, Sharma then returned with bowling figures of 11 runs, five overs and two wickets. Kamlesh Nagarkoti with his three wickets giving away only 18 runs, and Shivam Mavi with two wickets, were the other notable bowling performances. The Indian fielding was also top class, resulting in two run-outs.
Bangladesh ultimately could only make 134, losing the quarter-final clash by 131 runs.
This capped a wonderful day for the young Indian team, but what will please the Indian team management the most, is that the victory was a comprehensive team effort with no stand-out-performance.