Arch-rivals India and Pakistan will lock horns in the second semi-final of the on-going Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand. The hunt to book the berth in final will certainly add extra pressure on both sides but at the same time, the evoked passion and rip-roaring atmosphere will surely overpower the tension in both the camps.
There are many stories behind the on-field rivalries between the two sides, especially in the ICC events but unlike in the men's World Cup, where Men in Blue have a 6-0 advantage over their neighbours, Pakistan hold a slight upper hand here as they have 5-3 lead against India in U-19 Cricket World Cup.
It all started 1988, where Pakistan’s Under-19 team won their first encounter against Indian Under-19 team in the league stage. Pakistan posted 194 on the board with Shahid Anwar (43) and Zahoor Elahi (4/15) being the star performers for them. In reply to their target, India managed to score 126 runs before being bowled out. Kripal Singh (30) and Kanwar Virdi (2/35) were the top performers. Pakistan went on to win that by 68 runs.
Exactly after the span of 10 years once again the arch-rivals faced each other in the Under-19 World Cup. Where in, India bundled out Pakistan for 188 runs with Inam-ul-Haq (45*) being the top-scorer. Then came India's turn to bat where India got off to a dull start. The top-order collapsed like ninepins, then the partnership between skipper Amit Pagnis (52) and Mohammad Kaif (53) bailed the team out of deep waters. The maturity shown by this pair helped India win the match by 5 wickets.
It was 1-1 as both teams had won a match each. There was a sense of excitement in both camps to edge ahead in their mini battle. Once again, Indian openers couldn't provide a decent start and the reason behind this was Umar Gul who quickly got rid of Manvinder Bisla (0) and skipper Parthiv Patel (18). Then came Deepak Chougule (47) who played a gritty knock, Chandan Madan too played well. Besides them, no one really contributed much as India got all-out for 181 runs. Later on, Skipper Salman Butt (85) played a captain’s knock, which took Pakistan home, though the Indian bowlers penetrated their batting line-up but Salman's match-winning innings made the difference as they won the match by 2 wickets.
The stage was set for the young guns to go out and deliver as it was a semi-final clash between the two sides. The Indian side was led by Knight, Dinesh Karthik and this team had classy players, who later went on to represent India. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina and RP Singh were part of the playing XI that day. India crumbled under pressure as they got all-out for 169 runs. Though Uthappa (33) showed a lot of character as he held his nerves when the chips were down. Indian bowlers stepped up their hands as they got rid of Pakistan's top-order but Tariq Mahmood (45*) and Fawad Alam (43*) took the game away as they won the match by 5 wickets.
It was a perfect setup for a World Cup final as nothing can beat an India vs Pakistan clash. Everything went as per the plan as Piyush Chawla (4/8) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/16) dismantled the Pakistani batting line-up. A young Piyush impressed one and all with his variations. He bowled 3 maidens which gives a clear impression that he was tough to read. India bowled Pakistan out for 109 runs. Unfortunately, the Indian batting didn't click as the likes of Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Jadeja struggled to pick Anwar Ali (5/35) who bowled a brilliant spell. Piyush (25) was top-scorer as he showed everyone that he can bat when the situation demands.
Pakistan restricted India to 114 for 9 in a shortened game of 23 overs per side. Mandeep Singh (40) was the top scorer for India, Fayyaz Butt (4/27) was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan. Indian bowlers did a good job with the ball but they didn't have many runs on the board to defend and that cost the match to India. Pakistan won a low-scoring encounter by 2 wickets.
The drought of losing matches finally ended. Pakistan was bowled out for 136/10 courtesy Sandeep Sharma (3/24). Though Indian batters struggled but Baba Aprajith's (51) match-winning fifty sealed the deal for the young Indian side. This match was a perfect example of Indo-Pak cricket clash as the match went down to the wire & the fans had their hearts in their mouths. India went on to win the quarter-final by 1 wicket.
India had turned the table & break their losing streak against Pakistan in the Under-19 level. Sanju Samson (68) played a brilliant knock but it was Sarfaraz Khan, the 16-year old from Mumbai's cricketing circles who scored a quick-fire (74) which drew a lot of eye balls. The young Indian team posted 262 runs on the board losing 7 wickets. Deepak Hooda's (5/41) five-for did the trick when Pakistan came out to bat. Overall it was a collective effort as India won the match by 40 runs.
The rivalry is fierce between these two sides and history has proved this time and again. Prithvi Shaw (191 runs) and Shubman Gill (239 runs) are in tremendous form. From the bowling point of view Kamlesh Nagarkoti (7 wickets), who has bowled at a speed touching 150 kph is leading the bowling department. The promising pacer picked up a three-wicket haul in the quarterfinal against Bangladesh as well as a three-fer versus Australia Under-19 in the group phase. Shivam Mavi (8 wickets), his bowling partner is equally aggressive and dangerous when it comes to picking up wickets. It would be interesting to see how Prithvi Shaw and Co. perform in a big match against Pakistan Under-19.