Under-19 World Cup 2024: India overcomes South Africa scare to reach final

India overcame a major scare to stay on course for a record-extending sixth Under-19 World Cup title when it beat South Africa by two wickets in Tuesday’s semifinal.

Indian captain Uday Saharan made a composed 81 to see his team to the brink of victory before he was run out with the scores level at Willowmoore Park. Raj Limbani hit the next ball for four to finish the game.

Saharan and Sachin Dhas (96) rescued India from a precarious 32 for four in reply to South Africa’s 244 for seven. They added 171 runs for the fifth wicket.

Speaking through an interpreter at the after-match presentation, Saharan said he did not think about his team’s precarious situation when he and Dhas came together.

“I knew it was one partnership away and we needed to take the game deep,” he said.

It was the second successive match in which Saharan and Dhas shared a big partnership. They both hit centuries in putting on 215 for the fourth wicket against Nepal on Friday.

Kwena Maphaka, South Africa’s star left-arm fast bowler, dismissed Dhas and Avanish Aravelly in his final spell. But he and Tristan Luus, who had together engineered India’s top-order collapse, had both completed their allocation of overs with 19 runs needed and three overs remaining.

Maphaka, the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 21, took three for 32 and Luus claimed three for 37 – but their support bowlers failed to take any wickets.

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It was the first time India had been stretched in a tournament in which it won its first five matches by wide margins, on each occasion batting first.

Saharan chose to bowl first on Tuesday and said afterwards he was glad to have captained his team to victory in a tight match.

India will meet the winner of Thursday’s second semifinal between Pakistan and Australia in the final on Sunday. Both matches are at Willowmoore Park.

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