Dubai, Feb 22:
England earned a semifinal date against two-time former winners Pakistan when they held their nerves to beat defending champions India by three wickets in the ICC Under-19 World Cup here Saturday.
The 1998 champions England overhauled India’s 221/8 with five balls to spare but not before they required 15 off the last two overs and then eight runs off the final seven deliveries at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Man of the match Ben Duckett scored 61 off 64 balls with seven fours, wicketkeeper-batsman Joe Clarke chipped in with 42 off 45 balls with six fours and Rob Jones contributed 28 not out after England had slipped to 41/3 and then 148/6 after having recovered to 117/3 in their chase. Duckett added 76 runs for the fourth wicket with Ed Barnard (24).
Earlier, pacer Matthew Fisher took three wickets as India was reduced to 24/4 in 8.1 overs before Deepak Hooda, Sarfaraz Khan and Vijay Zol helped their side to 221.
Hooda and Vijay, who were both dropped early in their innings, added 87 runs for the fourth wicket. Hooda, who was finally run-out, hit six fours in a 99-ball innings while Zol hit three fours in an 85-ball innings.
However, it was a 46-ball cameo by Sarfaraz that got India to a respectable total. Sarfaraz hit four fours in an unbeaten 52 and it was his intelligent stroke-play that helped India score 74 runs in the last 10 overs, including 44 off the final five.
“It was a very good all-round performance and all the players deserve praise and appreciation. We got a few of India’s big players out early and you always start to feel confident when that happens. And then when you’ve only got to chase 220 odd, you start to believe further that you have a chance,” a delighted England captain Will Rhodes said.
India captain Zol, however, was left disappointed.
“We did really well to come back from 24/4 but we were still short by a few runs. We bowled really well on this surface where it wasn’t happening a lot. Our bowlers were well backed by the fielders,” said the left-handed batsman.
“It is obviously disappointing to lose the match but we fought till the very end. I don’t think it was a wrong decision to bat first but credit must be given to England bowlers who exploited the conditions and bowled well.”
Meanwhile, in the other quarterfinal, Pakistan produced a clinical performance to defeat Sri Lanka by 121 runs at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Monday’s semifinal between England and Pakistan will be played here. England leads Pakistan 3-1 in head-to-head in the U-19 World Cup.
Brief scores: India 221/8 in 50 overs (Deepak Hooda 68, Sarfaraz Khan 52 not out, Vijay Zol 48; Matthew Fisher 3/55) lost to England 222/7 in 49.1 overs (Ben Duckett 61, Joe Clarke 42, Rob Jones 28 not out; Kuldeep Yadav 3/46).