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ICC Men’s WC U19: India’s batting power to be tested against South Africa in first semi-final (Preview)

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ICC Men’s WC U19: India’s batting power to be tested against South Africa in first semi-final (Preview)

Benoni (South Africa), Feb 5 (IANS) It could turn out to be a head-to-head clash between India’s batting power and South Africa’s bowling power when the defending champions take on the hosts in the first semi-final of the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup. 2024 here on Tuesday.

After 38 matches and 16 days since the start of the 2024 ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup, four teams are now still fighting for the coveted title.

India have been a force throughout the tournament so far, not only winning each of their five matches but also dominating their opponents with three of their wins by a margin of over 200 runs.

India have found consistent contributors with both bat and ball, but it is their batting prowess that has stood out in the tournament. Amazingly, four players have scored five centuries so far for India in the tournament, with Musheer Khan in two 100-plus scores. The others who hit centuries for India U19 in this tournament are Sachin Dhas, skipper Uday Sharan and Arshin Kulkarni.

However, they may not yet have faced a bowling attack of the caliber of South Africa, which is spearheaded by the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, Kwena Maphaka. The left-arm pacer has effortlessly dismantled opposing batting line-ups, claiming three five-wicket hauls along the way. India, however, will take confidence from the fact that they successfully denied him in the previous tri-series at the U19 Men’s CWC.

Prteas opening batsmen Steve Stolk and Lhuan-dre Pretorius have been in outstanding form, leading the charge for South Africa.

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South Africa have only stumbled once in the tournament, against England in the group stage. But the hosts have momentum on their side with dominant wins from then on – highlights include their explosive 273-run chase for victory in 27 overs against Scotland to secure top spot in the stage of groups

INDIA IN MAXIMUM FORM

India began their tournament with a commanding 84-run win over Bangladesh, led by Saumy Pandey’s impressive four-wicket haul.

In the next match against Ireland, Musheer Khan’s century propelled India past the 300-run mark, with Naman Tiwari contributing four wickets for a resounding 201-run victory.

The momentum continued as the defenders surpassed 300 runs once again, this time against the USA. Opener Arshin Kulkarni passed three figures this time before Naman registered four successive fours as India emerged victorious by the same margin.

The Super Six stage rolled around next, and against New Zealand, Musheer Khan showed his brilliance with a second century, setting himself a target of 296. Saumy Pandey’s four wickets dismantled any hopes of a chase, already that the Blackcaps were bowled out for just 81. .

Centuries from captain Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas laid the foundation for a mammoth total of 297/5 in their last Super Six match against Nepal. Pandey’s left-arm spin wreaked havoc once again, sealing a 131-run victory as India punched their way into the semi-finals.

THE HOSTS HAVE ONLY LOST ONE GAME

South Africa started their tournament with a thrilling win over West Indies in a closely contested match. Kwena Maphaka’s brilliant five for Jewel Andrew’s brave ton as the Proteas won by 31 runs.

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The hosts then suffered their first and only defeat, losing to England by 36 runs (DLS) in a rain-truncated match.

However, they bounced back in style chasing 273 in 27 overs against Scotland. Steve Stolk smashed a fifty off just 13 balls, the fastest in Men’s U19 CWC history and was supported by Dewan Marais’ 80 off 50 balls.

In their first outing at the Super Six stage, Kwena Maphaka’s second five-wicket haul restricted Zimbabwe to a lowly 102. South Africa launched another explosive chase to secure a comfortable victory in just 13.3 overs, with Pretorius contributing a half-century.

In their last Super Six game, Sri Lanka’s bowling posed a challenge, restricting the hosts to a modest 232 runs. However, Maphaka’s superb six-wicket haul tore through the Islanders’ batting line-up, securing South Africa’s qualification and a big game against India in the semi-final with an emphatic 119-run win .

ALL EYES ON MUSHEER

While India have shown their batting prowess, all eyes will be on Musheer Khan, who has been a revelation for the defending champions in the tournament so far, leading the scoring charts with 334 runs at an impressive rate of ‘attack of 103.72. Beyond his batting prowess, Musheer has also proved useful with the ball, picking up four wickets at an economy rate of 3.01.

Close behind Musheer in the most runs list is captain Uday Saharan with 308. A mainstay in the middle order, Uday has momentum on his side after a century in the last match against Nepal.

So far, it has been difficult to keep Saumy Pandey out of any game in the tournament, with the left-arm spinner bagging at least three wickets in four of the five games so far.

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Currently third in the wicket-takers’ list with 16, Pandey will be looking to climb to the top, but the brilliant Kwena Maphaka stands in his way at the top of the bowling charts with 18.

The left-arm quick has earned praise from some of the game’s greats for his speed and ability to move the ball early.

Among the Proteas batsmen, the onus is mainly on the shoulders of openers Steve Stolk and Lhaundre Pretorius to provide a good start for South Africa. Stolk has taken the tournament by storm, his 214 runs coming at a strike rate of 148.6. Along with Pretorius, the pair have combined for 360 runs, the highest for any pair in the tournament, with an impressive strike rate of 141.2.

As the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2024 reaches its commercial end, the clash between India and South Africa promises to be an enthralling encounter, with Willowmoore Park in Benoni set to play out the action

Expected XIs:

India U19: Adarsh ​​​​​​Singh, Arshin Kulkarni, Musheer Khan, Uday Saharan (C), Priyanshu Moliya, Sachin Dhas, Aravelly Avanish (week), Murugan Abhishek, Naman Tiwari, Raj Limbani, Saumy Pandey.

South Africa U19: Lhuan-dre Pretorius (week), Steve Stolk, David Teeger, Richard Seletswane, Dewan Marais, Romashan Pillay, Juan James (C), Riley Norton, Tristan Luus, Nqobani Mokoena, Kwena Maphaka.

— IANS

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