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Junior Men in Blue storm into the semis-finals

If you think, cricket these days is all about high scoring matches, then you should probably watch the U-19 world cup. In the days of T20 and the game favouring batters, low scoring thrillers are a rare phenomenon. But the future stars of cricket are making it happen in the world cup. Earlier it was the amazing quarter-final between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, and yesterday it was the quarter-final between India and Bangladesh. And even though India won victorious yesterday, the truly amazing display of fighting spirit from Bangla players was worth watching.

The two finalists of the former world cup were raring to go. Looking at the pitch it was sure that the bowlers can make the most out of it if they bow tight line and length. Therefore it was obvious that the team which wins the toss will bowl first. Accordingly the runners-up of last world cup, India won the toss and chose to bowl. The Indian bowlers ensured they harnessed the conditions to their benefit.

With accuracy, they rattled the Bangla batting line-up. Ravi Kumar destroyed the top order with his amazing bowling. While on one hand, he was breathing fire, other bowlers were complimenting him very well too by bowling tight lines and not allowing the flow of runs. Plus, the Indians were exceptional in the field. When Aich Mollah was playing well, his run out by Yash Dhull sent him back to the pavilion, and his team on backfoot.

On the backfoot, at 56/7, SM Meherob and Ashiqur Zaman steadied the Bangla ship. Playing extremely cautiously, the duo stitched up to a much-needed half-century partnership. The duo batted sensibly and played the middle overs. But a missed shot by Meherob ensured the end of the partnership. Sooner, an error in judgement by Zaman to steal a second run and a 60-metre direct hit from Siddharth Yadav ensured the end of Zaman. Eventually, with the last catch, Bangladesh was bundled for 111. The Indian bowlers had done their job, it was now the turn of batters to play their role.

The target may have looked an easy one, but Bangla tigers were determined to win this encounter. They dismissed the inform Harnoor Singh for a duck. Their discipline in bowling made life difficult for the best Indian batters Raghuwanshi and Rasheed. If at all they tried to time the ball, the Bangla fielders put their sleeves on the heart to stop the ball, increasing the pressure on Men in Blue. It looked like the Indians may have a tough time to bat against the high spirits of the Bangla bowlers.

But both the batters held their nerve and batted well after the first 10 overs. It looked like it may be easy for India to win, but Ripon Mondol did something which Ravi Bishnoi did in the last tournament final against Bangladesh. Ripon took 4 wickets in quick succession. He sent the elegant batters Raghuwanshi, Rasheed, Yadav and Bawa back to the pavilion. In addition, the Bangla fielders were denying singles to the Indians. Eventually, the calm head of the skipper Yash Dhull and Kaushal Tambe led India to a victory. With it, India, the most successful team of U-19s have stormed into the semi-final of the tournament.

If one looks only at the scorecard, the person might not understand how thrilling the match happened. With both the teams playing their top-notch game, this game was one to remember. Both the teams performed exceptionally well in all three departments of the game. Discipline in bowling, caution in batting and aggression while fielding is what one saw from both teams. The best of ODI cricket is what one can say by looking at what happened.

Even though the defending world champions Bangladesh might have lost the match, they should be proud of the way they played in the match. The rise of the U-19 Bangladesh team is pleasing to see. The victory of the last world cup, the fighting spirit they displayed in this world cup will inspire many Bangla kids to take up the game improve their country's cricketing image. In the years to come, this Bangladesh team will give a tough fight to all other nations. And speaking of India, it is still the best U-19 team in the world. With their main players back in the game after covid, and with winning the low scoring thriller, they would want to win the semi-final against Australia. Looking at both, The Indian and Aussie teams, it seems like the match will be a treat to the fans. Let's hope it happens.

Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)


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