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Unbeaten Indians favourites in semis clash against SA

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Benoni, Feb 5: Red-hot India will be firm favourites to book a place in the summit clash of the ongoing U-19 World Cup when they take on hosts South Africa in the first semifinal here on Tuesday.
Defending champions India have marched on into the semifinals on the back of five consecutive wins in the tournament, with their exciting talent putting up a fine all-round show to ensure their dominance.
Across departments, it will be tough to point out a singular force behind India’s juggernaut, particularly in last few games.
If the batters have buried the opponents under a mountain of runs, the bowlers have delivered wins that have exceeded a minimum of 130 runs in terms of margins.
With two centuries and a fifty, the 18-year-old Musheer Khan has lit up the tournament as he sits atop the list of batters with most runs in this edition, amassing 334 runs in five outings at 83.50.
Hot on his heels is India skipper Uday Saharan, who has led by example to rake up 304 runs with two fifties and a ton while averaging 61.60.
Sachin Dhas has also given a fine example of himself, hitting a 116 in India’s last Super Six game against Nepal after his side was put in a spot of bother at 62 for three.
Each of India’s opponents have hitherto found it difficult to score runs off India vice-captain and left-arm spinner Saumy Kumar Pandey, whose enviable economy rate of 2.17 have helped him snare 16 wickets with three four-fors, placing him third in the list of most successful bowlers in this World Cup.
Pandey’s ability to keep a lid on the opposition batters with suffocating line and lengths in the powerplay have allowed India to dominate the proceedings with the ball in hand.
Pandey’s accuracy has also aided the seamers, with Naman Tiwari (9 wickets) and Raj Limbani (4 wickets) thriving from the other end.
Besides India’s winning run, their recent success against South Africa also makes them favourites to book a place in the final, which could witness a possible blockbuster India-Pakistan clash.
Pakistan will take on Australia in the second semifinal here at the Willowmoore Park.
Before embarking on the World Cup campaign, India had crushed South Africa in two consecutive ODIs of the Tri Nation Series while chasing, something which will give the Saharan-led side confidence.
However, the knockout games bring a different kind of pressure and the first semifinal could be a battle between India’s in-form batters and the on-song South African pacer Kwena Maphaka.
With three five-wicket hauls in five games, Maphaka has not only topped the charts among bowlers with 18 scalps but he has single-handedly set up South Africa’s commanding wins in last two games. The left-arm pacer ran through Sri Lanka with 6/21 in South Africa’s last Super Six game. (PTI)
Time: 1:30PM IST.

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