Queenstown: India justified their top billing as they clinically defeated Bangladesh by 131 runs in the quarter-final to set up a mouth-watering last-four clash with Pakistan in the ICC U-19 World Cup.
The Prithvi Shaw-led team outclassed their neighbours with consummate ease scoring 265 and then bundling out the hosts for a paltry 134 in 42.1 overs.
“The boys really executed the plans well as we have practised in the net session. Really looking forward to the contest against Pakistan,” skipper Shaw said after the match.
Abhishek Sharma, who missed out on the Man of the match award to his Punjab teammate Shubhman Gill (86 off 94 balls), was undoubtedly the star performer with his brilliant all-round show.
He first scored a quick 50 (off 49 balls) and then took a couple of wickets (2 for 11) along with two catches.
Such was India’s domination that despite a lower-order batting collapse, their bowlers scythed through Bangladesh middle-order with speedsters Kamlesh Nagarkoti (3 for 18 in 7.1 overs) and Shivam Mavi (2 for 27 in 8 overs) once again working up brisk pace.
Save opener Pinak Ghosh (43), none of the other Bangladeshi batsmen could cross the 20-run mark in what turned out to be a virtually one-sided contest.
Nagarkoti, who is expected to be sought after uncapped pick at the IPL auctions, once again regularly hit the 140 kmph mark beating the batsmen for sheer pace.
Some of the Bangladesh’s lower-order batsmen looked mortally scared as they were seen retreating towards the leg- stump trying to avoid getting hurt.
The Indian spinners — left-arm trio of Shiva Singh, Anukul Roy and Abhishek kept it really tight as the Bangladesh batsmen found it difficult to rotate the strike with singles and doubles.
Ishan Porel coming back after recuperating from ankle injury was fast and accurate during his only spell of the match.
While Rahul Dravid’s boys will gear up for their semi-final against Pakistan, the only worrying factor will be lack of the contribution from the lower-order, who were exposed for the first time.
From a comfortable 215 for 4, India lost six wickets for 50 runs on a pitch that was slowish in nature with stroke play being difficult.
Dravid will have to look into this issue as Pakistan are expected to be a far more accomplished team with better quality bowling attack during the semi-final scheduled on January 30.
However there was no stopping Shubhman, who hit nine boundaries in his 94 ball knock.
Someone who loves taking the aerial route, Shubhman was seen hitting a lot of balls down the ground as he shared 86- run second wicket stand with Shaw (40, 54 balls) and 74 for the third wicket with gloveman Desai (34).
“Rahul sir (Dravid) had told me to play along the ground more and I tried doing that,” Gill said with a sheepish grin as Dravid standing among the players had a hearty laugh showing thumbs up to Gill.
“We had initially thought that we could get up to 280 to 300 but the wicket was on the slower side,” said Gill.
Once Gill was gone, the cheeky Abhishek kept the scoreboard ticking despite losing out on partners as he hit six boundaries. It was courtesy Abhishek that India got-past the 200-run mark.
“He is a brilliant all-rounder and he contributed really well today,” skipper Shaw said.