India beat Pak in low-scoring thriller to enter semis

Will meet New Zealand in the semifinal.

Harmeet Singh is embraced by Unmukt Chand after scoring the winning runs in Townsville.

Action in Images

TOWNSVILLE: Baba Aparajith shepherded what had appeared to be a futile pursuit as India entered the semifinals of the Under-19 World Cup following a nail-biting one-wicket win over Pakistan on Monday.

The victory earned India the right to take on New Zealand in the semifinal.

Chasing Pakistan’s paltry 136 on a seaming track, India began the chase in a manner most unforgettable, losing the openers Prashant Chopra and Unmukt Chand cheaply. Hanuma Vihari's exit left the Boys in Blue tottering at 8-3 in five overs.

Aparajith (51) and Vijay Zol (36) steadied the ship with a 66-run stand for the fourth wicket. In difficult batting conditions, Aparajith eschewed risks and ground it out for 97 balls as Pakistan tightened the field within the circle.

The Tamil Nadu youngster’s half-century contained just three hits to the fence, while Zol was marginally more aggressive with five fours in his 62-ball knock.

India kept losing regular wickets, losing four, including the well-set Aparajiith - for just seven runs - when his first act of imperiousness was plucked out of thin air at extra cover.

Aparajith’s dismissal initiated another slide as India lost four wickets for seven runs between the 37th and 41st over, descending from 120-5 to 127-9.

The Boys in Blue needed 10 to win at that stage, with the last pair of Harmeet Singh and Sandeep Sharma (2, 22b) in the middle.

Although Pakistan vied valiantly to break the last pair, the batsmen battled hard for seven overs to take India over the line, the victory arriving when Harmeet (13, 34b) swung left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz over square leg for the winning brace.

Earlier, medium pacers Sandeep and Ravikant Singh claimed three wickets apiece to skittle out Pakistan for a paltry 136 in just 45.1 overs.

Pakistan never recovered after Sandeep claimed a wicket on the first and fifth balls of the opening over, leaving them two down with nothing on the board.

A promising 55-run stand between Babar Azam (50) and Umar Waheed (27) ended when the latter edged Ravikant to the wicket-keeper.

In the 20th over, Ravikant struck twice, bowling the dangerous Saad Ali and dismissing Salman Afridi to leave Pakistan reeling at 61-5. Babar was out when he flicked Aparajith straight to Unmukt at mid-wicket.

It took some lusty hitting lower down the order by Ehsan Adil (35, 38b, 4x4) to deliver a total that bordered on competitiveness. Adil was the last man out when he became Sandeep’s third and final victim,  lofting to mid-off where he was pouched by Aparajith.

In the other quarterfinal, New Zealand registered a thrilling win over West Indies, smashing a four off the last ball to clinch the game.

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