India qualified for the semi-final of the ICC U-19 World Cup with a string of comprehensive wins and now face their arch-rivals Pakistan in the knock out phase of the tournament. After securing comfortable victories in all their three group matches against Australia U-19, Papua New Guinea U-19 and Zimbabwe U-19, the Indian colts have now set up a mouth-watering clash against Pakistan after beating Bangladesh by 131-runs in the quarter-final.
With a spot in the final up for grabs, both teams will give in their best shot. Led by Prithvi Shaw, India has been in a stupendous run of form and have all the bases covered. Shubman Gill (239 runs) has been particularly impressive and is highest run-getter in the tournament. In the last encounter, he scored a sublime 90 and coach Rahul Dravid will hope he continues to deliver the goods. With the ball, India boasts of potent pace attack comprising of Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi. While Anukul Roy is the leading wicket-taker of the tourney with 11 scalps. Hence, going by form India seem favourites but what they haven’t encountered is the high-pressure situation of an Indo-Pak clash. If they manage to counter the battle of nerves then a spot in the finals against Australia looks certain.
As far as Pakistan are concerned they have won three out of the four matches played so far and were beaten once by the Afghanistan side in the group stage. The frailties of their batting order were laid threadbare by the Afghan bowlers and that is something the Indian bowlers will look at. However, since then the batting has put up a rearguard action with Ali Zaryab Asif and Rohail Nazir leading the charge.
Bowling has always been Pakistan’s strength and Shaheen Afridi, Muhammad Musa and Arshad Iqbal form a lethal combination. In the quarter-final clash against South Africa, they picked up seven wickets amongst themselves to bowl out the Africans for a paltry 189. Shaheen Afridi is the leading wicket-taker for Pakistan U19 and Indian batsmen need to be wary of not giving him early wickets.
As far as head to head records are concerned India have a slightly better advantage (12-8) but all that goes out of the window when crickets biggest rivalry takes centre stage at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
India U19: Prithvi Shaw(c), Manjot Kalra, Shubman Gill, Harvik Desai(w), Riyan Parag, Abhishek Sharma, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Anukul Sudhakar Roy, Shivam Mavi, Shiva Singh, Ishan Porel, Aryan Juyal, Arshdeep Singh, Pankaj Yadav, Himanshu Rana, Aditya Thakare
Pakistan U19: Muhammad Zaid Alam, Rohail Nazir(w), Ammad Alam, Hasan Khan(c), Mohammad Taha, Saad Khan, Muhammad Musa, Shaheen Afridi, Suleman Shafqat, Arshad Iqbal, Imran Shah, Mohammad Ali Khan, Munir Riaz, Ali Zaryab, Muhammad Mohsin Khan. (Reuters)