Potchefstroom (South Africa): Four-time champions India will back themselves to reach their third successive final at the U-19 World Cup when they face arch-rivals Pakistan in a last four clash here on Tuesday.
Both teams go into the semifinal unbeaten. While India beat Australia in the quarterfinals, Pakistan outplayed Afghanistan. Pakistan captain Rohail Nazir played down the hype surrounding the game but an India-Pakistan contest is always a high-pressure one which tests the character of players on either side.
Doing well in the game makes them overnight stars and the players know that. “It is a high-pressure game and has a lot of buzz in the world. We will play it like a normal game and hope to do well,” said Pakistan opener Mohammad Huraira after the win over Afghanistan.
Like at the highest level, the India juniors have had the upper hand over Pakistan of late, having beaten them in the Asia Cup last September when they emerged tournament winners. India, who are the defending champions of the U-19 World Cup, had inflicted on Pakistan a 203-run hammering in the last edition in 2018.
However, history counts for little and the Priyam Garg-led India will have to play their best cricket to knock Pakistan out of the competition. Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal has been the backbone of India batting, scoring three half-centuries in four games including against Australia. The rest of the batsmen have not done much to write home about and if the lower-order had not rescued India in the quarterfinal, the outcome of the game could have been different.
Not to forget the match-winning spell from pacer Kartik Tyagi. Atharva Ankolekar and in-form leggie Ravi Bishnoi shared a 61-run stand for the seventh wicket to give their team a fighting chance. In the end, India won rather comfortably. Facing Pakistan fast bowlers Abbads Afridi, Mohammad Amir Khan and Tahir Hussain will be a challenge for the Indian batsmen. Opener
Huraira made an impressive debut in the last game, scoring 64 to lead his team to a comprehensive win over Afghanistan after bowlers nicely set up the game.