Shubman Gill converted his record sixth consecutive 50-plus score in Youth ODIs into a magnificent backs-to-the-wall century, to help India stroll into the Under-19 World Cup final against Australia in Mount Maunganui. He was helped in no small part by Shivam Mavi and Prithvi Shaw, who pulled off outstanding catches – at fine leg and slip respectively – early in Pakistan’s chase of 273 to cause a slide they could not arrest.
From 20 for 3, overcoming a relentless pace and spin attack proved too much for Pakistan. Ishan Porel, India’s third seamer, took a four-wicket haul as Pakistan were bowled out for 69 in 29.2 overs, their lowest total in the tournament’s history.
Where Pakistan was lax, reprieving Manjot Kalra thrice and Shaw once early in the innings, India was excellent. Mavi, who delivered three successive maiden overs in Pakistan’s chase, threw the ball back in from the fine-leg boundary because he was slightly overbalanced and completed a stunning catch to dismiss Muhammad Zaid Alam. Two overs later, Shaw anticipated an edge and moved to his left to take a sharp catch at wide slip. That left Pakistan 13 for 2, and under tremendous pressure. They did not cope.
Pakistan’s fielding was partly why India got the start they did. The openers put on 89 in 15.3 overs, but it could have been so different had Pakistan not let opportunities slip. In the eighth over, Shaheen Afridi missed a run-out at the bowler’s end as Shaw was struggling to make his ground. Off the next delivery, he should have had Kalra caught but Alam put down a sitter at slip.
There was a third reprieve in the space of eight balls, when left-arm spinner Hassan Khan drew the edge from Kalra, only for Alam to drop it at slip again. Then, a fourth opportunity went begging when Kalra was stranded halfway down the pitch, only for Saad Khan, who had all the time in the world to take aim or perhaps even run as close as possible before underarming a flick, to miss the stumps.
Before all that, though, Kalra exhibited class in driving on the up and trusting his hand-eye coordination over feet movement. He impressed with his crisp off-side play, based on the old principle of a stand and deliver, to loft Arshad Iqbal over the infield and then playing a scorcher of a cover drive. The calculated assault was reminiscent of the kind Virender Sehwag inflicted on Pakistan at the 2011 World Cup semi-final.