India produced another dominating performance to secure a semifinal berth with a huge 132-run win against Nepal in their last ICC U19 World Cup 2024 Super Six stage match on Friday. Centuries from Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas charged India to a 297/6 total and then another stellar spell from spinner Saumy Pandey restricted Nepal to 165/9.
With five straight wins, the defending champions are leading the Super Six Group 1 and will be facing either South Africa or Australia in the semifinal clash. Pakistan and Bangladesh clash in the crucial Super Six stage game on Saturday with the former being the hot favourite to reach the knockout round.
Coming back to the India-Nepal game, Saharan won the toss and elected to bat first at Bloemfontein Mangaung Oval. Pacer Aaradhya Shukla came in for in-form Naman Tiwari for India while Nepal made three changes to their playing eleven.
India’s in-form top-order failed to make a big impact today as they lost three wickets on just 62. But in-form Saharan and struggling Sachin Dhas staged a sensational comeback for the young Blue Guns with a record-breaking 215-run stand for the fourth wicket.
The duo dominated Nepal bowlers by scoring a hundred each and charged India to a huge total of 297/6. Saharan scored 100 off 107 balls while Sachin top-scored with 116 off just 101 balls with the help of 11 fours and three sixes. The 17-year-old in-form pacer Gulshan Jha took three wickets for 57 in only positive for Nepal at Mangaung Oval.
Chasing a huge target, Nepal openers Deepak Bohara and Arjun Kumal brilliantly added 48 runs for the first wicket. Pacers Raj Limbani and debutant Shukla were not able to find any movement with a new ball as Nepal seemed in a position to make things interesting.
But Limbani gave a breakthrough with a caught and bold wicket to dismiss Bohara in the 14th over and then Nepal witnessed an embarrassing collapse. In-form spinners Saumy Pandey and Arsheen Kulkarni dominated the middle overs with a combined five wickets as Nepal lost seven wickets within 29 runs.
Subash Bhandari and captain Dev Kamal tried to avoid the inevitable by adding 28 runs for the eighth wicket. Shukla provided a breakthrough in the 35th over with his maiden wicket in the tournament. Saumya took his fourth wicket of the game by removing Dev in the 39th over but the last pair of Durgesh Gupta and Aakash Chadn denied India the pleasure of an all-out win by adding an unbeaten 45 runs for the 10th wicket.
Meanwhile, the tournament hosts South Africa thrashed Sri Lanka by 119 runs to become the first team to reach the semifinal. Australia and West Indies shared a point due to bad weather in Kimberley which confirmed a semifinal berth and a top spot in Super Six Group 1 for the former.