A match-winning 65-run seventh wicket stand between Raj Bawa and Kaushal Tambe ensured a fighting four-wicket victory for India over a gritty Afghanistan as they entered the semifinal of the U-19 Asia Cup tournament in Dubai on Monday.
Bawa (43 not out) and Tambe (35 not out) joined hands when India were in trouble at 197 for six but they kept calm to take the ‘Boys in Blue’ to their required 260-run target with 10 balls to spare.
This was after in-form opener Harnoor Pannu (65) and his partner Angkrish Raghuvanshi (35) added 104 for the opening stand. However, the middle order caved in with skipper Yash Dull (26) and Nishant Sindhu (19) failing to convert starts. It was left to Bawa and Tambe to take the team home.
India will face the winners between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, who are pitted against each other in the last group league encounter.
With India finishing second, they would meet the topper of the other group.
Put into bat at the ICC Academy Oval 2 in Dubai, Afghanistan skipper Suliman Safi’s patient 73 coupled with a blistering unbeaten 86 off 68 balls by Ijaz Ahmad Ahmadzai propelled Afghanistan to respectable 259/4.
Chasing 260, Harnoor, who hit nine boundaries and Angkrish were off to a flyer as India raced to 44 for no loss in six overs.
It was raining boundaries at the ground, with the two openers hammering the Afghan attack with utmost ease.
India were cruising at 74/0 after 12 overs. However, Raghuvanshi was trapped in the front by left-arm unorthodox spinner Noor Ahmad (4/43) as he broke the 104-run opening stand.
India slipped to 116/3, as Afghanistan removed Harnoor and Shaik Rasheed (6) cheaply. Then skipper Dhull and Sindhu tried to take the game deep, but Khalel Khalel pegged back India by removing Sindhu with India reeling at 162/4.
Then Noor Ahmad got his third, after Ishaq stumped Dhull in the 36th over, as India lost half of their side for 183. Noor then trapped Aaradhya Yadav (12) to leave India teetering at 197/6.
Bawa and Tambe had an enormous task at hand but they forged a match-winning stand to take their side to the last four stage with Tambe fittingly finishing the game with a boundary.
A fantastic bowling performance helped the home team restrict the formidable Pakistan to 219 for eight. But the hugely experienced Pakistanis managed to defend the total, restricting UAE to 198 for nine.
India U19 beat Afghanistan U19 by four wickets.
Afghanistan U19 259/4 (Ijaz Ahmad Ahmadzai 86 not out, Suliman Safi 73; Kaushal Tambe 1/25) India U19 262/6 (Harnoor Singh 65; R Bawa 43 not out; Noor Ahmad 4/43)
Pakistan U19 219/8 (Qasim Akram 50, Haseebullah Khan 39, Ahmed Khan 34 not out; Aayan Afzal Khan 3/44, Nilansh Keswani 2/32, Jash Giyanani 1/44, Ali Naseer 1/44, Dhruv Parashar 1/3) UAE U19 198/9 (Aayan Afzal Khan 38, Kai Smith 38, Alishan Sharafu 35; Qasim Akram 3/52, Maaz Sadaqat 2/21, Mohammad Zeeshan 2/34, Mehran Mumtaz 2/35)