India has secured its fifth consecutive final berth in the ICC U19 World Cup Cricket after defeating the home team South Africa by two wickets in the first semi-final held at Benoni.
The defending champions will now await the winner of the semi-final match between Pakistan and Australia to determine their opponent in the final, which is scheduled for Sunday, November 11.
In the match, Indian captain Uday Saharan won the toss and elected to chase, marking the first instance in the tournament where India chose to bowl first after batting first in all their previous five games.
Despite a slow period in the middle overs, South Africa managed to post a competitive total with aggressive play during both the initial and final stages of their innings. Despite losing four wickets for 32 runs, India successfully chased the target, largely due to a stellar partnership between Saharan (81) and Sachin Dhas (96).
South Africa began strongly, with Kwena Maphaka making an early breakthrough by dismissing Adarsh Singh. Tristan Luus further troubled India, claiming the wickets of Musheer Khan and others in his opening spell, leaving India struggling at 32/4 by the 12th over. However, a partnership between Saharan and Dhas gradually shifted the momentum in India’s favor.
Despite South Africa’s efforts to regain control through their main bowlers Luus and Maphaka, India’s fifth-wicket pair remained composed and steadily closed in on the target. Maphaka eventually broke the partnership by dismissing Dhas, but Saharan’s composure, along with support from Raj Limbani, guided India to a thrilling victory.
South Africa’s innings saw an early breakthrough from Raj Limbani, but they managed to stabilize their innings, reaching 244/7 thanks to contributions from various batsmen, including Lhuan-dre Pretorius and skipper Juan James.
The semi-final between Pakistan and Australia is set to take place on February 8, adding further excitement to the ongoing ICC U19 World Cup Cricket tournament.