Sachin Dhas led the Indian run chase and single-handedly downed an otherwise brilliant South African side in the first semi-final of the ongoing International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup on Tuesday. Dhas’ innings helped tip the scales in the defending champions’ favour after finding themselves in deep trouble early on.
Batting first, South Africa set a modest target of 245 for India to chase. The Boys in Blue, who remained unbeaten throughout the tournament, were in for a shock start losing opener Adarsh Singh on the first ball of the innings.
With eight runs on the board, Musheer Khan departed, while Arshin Kulkarni and Priyanshu Moliya were soon to follow with India finding themselves at 32 for the loss of four wickets. However, Sachin Dhas came in to join skipper Uday Saharan to forge a solid partnership and see the team out of trouble.
Dhas missed out on an epic century, departing after scoring 96 runs including 11 boundaries and a maximum. However, he had already taken the team to within a whisker of the win, which the tail-enders managed to score the remaining runs seeing India make it to the finals. At the other end of the pitch, captain Saharan supported him well and also went on to play a very calm and crucial innings of 81 off 124 balls.
Kwena Maphaka and Tristan Luus, particularly the latter, wreaked havoc on the Indian top order early on in the innings. Both ended up picking three wickets each, but could not prevent India from crossing the line. India finished the match with 248 runs for the loss of eight wickets, winning the match by two wickets and with seven balls left.
Earlier on, Lhuan-dre Pretorius (76) and Richard Seletswane (64) scored big to ensure South Africa put up a fighting total. Luus’ quick fire 23 towards the end also helped put some additional runs on the board.
Raj Limbani was the pick of the bowlers for India picking up three wickets, while Musheer Khan got two and Naman Tiwari, and Saumy Kumar Pandey got one each.
An epic India-Pakistan final might on the cards, with the neighbours taking on Australia in the other semi-final on February 8.