Dubai: England pulled off a stunning three-wicket win over defending champions India to reach the semi-finals of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 Cricket World Cup on Saturday.
India paid the price for a poor start and were restricted to 221 for 8.
In contrast, England, through a spirited batting display from Ben Duckett (61), Joe Clarke (42) and an unbeaten 28 from Rob Jones, won the match with five balls to spare at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Though fine knocks were played by Deepak Hooda (68) and skipper Vijay Zol (48), while Sarfaraz Khan’s quick unbeaten 52 pulled India out of trouble, their total was not big enough to stop the determined England batsmen.
India’s decision to bat first in conditions similar to those in England surprised many.
England’s in-form medium pacer Matthew Fisher, who had destroyed New Zealand’s top order with a three-wicket spell in the last match, did the same to India.
Duckett, displaying his favourite reverse sweep, literally swept India out of the match. England could have restricted India to an even a smaller total had they fielded better.
At one stage, England were 148 for 6 but their lower-order batsmen rose to the challenge, especially Jones and Rob Sayer (10n.o), who their nerve and put on an invaluable 23 runs for the eighth wicket in 3.4 overs to steer their team to victory.
Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who is currently the highest wicket-taker of the tournament, bagged three wickets, but his efforts went in vain.
England will meet Pakistan in the first semi-final on Monday at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
England struck early through medium pacer Jack Winslade, who had opener Ankush Bains edged to wicketkeeper Joe Clarke for 3 with the last ball of the second over.
In the third over, Fisher made Akhil Herwadkar edge to Clarke with a delivery that moved away.
With the very next ball, he took the prize wicket of Sanju Samson caught at first slip by Ben Duckett.
With three wickets down for just eight runs, Indian skipper Vijay Zol played a lovely drive to the mid-off fence off Fisher.
Ricky Bhui pulled Winslade for another boundary to take the score to 24 when Fisher struck again. He made Bhui edge to Duckett at first slip for 7.
India would have been in real trouble had wicketkeeper Clarke managed to catch Deepak Hooda on nought down the leg side off Fisher. Zol also had a lucky escape with his score on 9 when Winslade failed to take the return catch.
Zol and Hooda took the score to 72 when Hooda on 27 got dropped again off leg-spinner Rob Jones, with Barnard taking an easy catch at long-on. The pair went on to add 87 runs in 24.4 overs when Zol fell two runs short of his half century when he played into the hands of Duckett at covers off off-spinner Rob Sayer.
Hooda played some lovely shots to keep the scoreboard moving at a brisk pace. In the 40th over, Hooda got run-out off a direct hit from Jonathan Tattersall at backward point. Aamir Gani lasted just 12 balls to score seven runs.
Sarfaraz Khan and Kuldeep Yadav put on 35 in five overs before Yadav got run out for 16. Khan steered Indian past the 200-run mark by hitting Fisher to the mid-wicket boundary. Through many well-placed, lofted shots, Khan swelled India’s total. He reached his half century by hitting the last two balls of the last over for two successive boundaries off Winslade.
Chasing a run-rate of just 4.42 an over, England needed a good start.
Tattersall and Harry Finch began cautiously by putting on 30 in 7.1 overs.
Medium pacer Monu Kumar trapped Finch leg before for 10. Six runs later, left-arm pacer Chama Milind had Ryan Higgins caught by Samson for 1. Tattersall also followed, offering a comfortable return catch to Hooda for 23.
England’s most reliable batsmen Duckett and Barnard quickly settled down. When it looked as if England were getting on top, Gani made Barnard hit high into the hands of Samson at long-on for 24. The pair had put on 76 in 15 overs.
Duckett reached his half century in 55 balls with five boundaries. Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav ended Duckett’s innings by having him caught at short cover by Zol in the 30th over. When England still needed 74 runs in 98 balls, Yadav bowled England skipper Will Rhodes to tilt the match in India’s favour.
Joe Clarke and Rob Jones pulled England towards the target through a 51 runs partnership. When England needed 23 runs to win, Clarke was brilliant caught by Zol at midwicket off Yadav for 42.
India 221 for 8 in 50 overs (Vijay Zol 48, Deepak Hooda 68, Sarfaraz Khan 52n.o, Matthew Fisher 3 for 55) England 222 for 7 in 49.1 overs (Jonathan Tattersall 23, Ben Duckett 61, Ed Barnard 24, Joe Clarke 42, Rob Jones 28n.o, Kuldeep Yadav 3 for 46)
Player of the match: Ben Duckett.