Fuelled by valiant half-century scores from Sachin Dhas and captain Uday Saharan, who put up a record 171-run stand for the fifth wicket, defending champions India scripted a stunning come-from-behind win against South Africa to reach the final, their fifth consecutive and ninth overall. Dhas (96 off 95 balls) and Saharan (81 off 124) inspired India to fight back from 32 for 4 in 11.2 overs as the five-time champions hunted down the target of 245 with just 7 balls to spare. Following the two-wicket win at the Willowmoore Park in Benoni, former India cricketers Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir erupted on social media to lead the congratulations.
India were handed a major scare at the start of the chase, as the top-order was rattled within 68 deliveries. The South African new-ball bowler Kwena Maphaka jolted India in the first ball of their innings, dismissing Adarsh Singh before Tristan Luus struck thrice to remove Musheer Khan, Arshin Kulkarni and Priyanshu Moliya.
However, Saharan and Dhas, who had scored a century each in their previous game against Nepal, with their vastly contrasting innings, scripted a fabulous rescue act for India. The nine-time finalists did incur another tricky phase, when India lost three quick wickets with 17 runs required, but the captain stayed composed to steer the team past the finish line.
“What a win from being 32 for 4 .. fantastic performance from the young boys .. some good talent in this South African side too @bcci,” wrote Ganguly, while Gambhir said: “Fifth consecutive #U19WC final! Well done boys!”
India ready for final, says Saharan
India, who scripted an unbeaten run through the league stage, followed by the Super Six, experienced their biggest challenge in the semifinal against South Africa. But having overcome the difficulty, India captain Uday Saharan felt that the close match will benefit his team to a good extent for the final, where they will face one between Australia and Pakistan.
“It is a great feeling to reach the final. We got a taste of close games, and that will be good in the final. We don’t let the morale get low in the dressing room at all — our environment and coaches are superb,” Saharan, who was later adjudged man of the match, told the host broadcaster.