In-form India aim to outclass Pak
Christchurch: After bagging lucrative deals at the IPL auction, members of the unbeaten Indian team will be eager to deliver when they face arch-rivals Pakistan in the second semi-final of the ICC U-19 World Cup here on Tuesday.
Three-time champions India have played like a thorough professional outfit, winning all four matches in emphatic fashion including the quarterfinal against Bangladesh.
For two-time winners Pakistan, it has not been smooth sailing all the way. They lost their tournament opener to Afghanistan before winning three in a row.
However, their last two results were narrow three wickets wins against Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Pakistan's bowling, led by left-arm pace sensation Shaheen Afridi, has done the job for the team but batting has been far from convincing.
Ali Zaryab Asif did bulk of the scoring in the middle- order, rescuing the side from tight situations twice. He hit 59 against Sri Lanka and followed it up with a 74 against South Africa in the quarter-final.
It's time that others chip in and Indian pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi would look to exploit that weakness in the opposition camp.
The young Indian guns would also be high on confidence, having secured potentially life-changing deals at the IPL auction with their performances in the World Cup.
KKR paid Rs 3.2 crore and Rs 3 crore for left-arm pacer Nagarkoti and Mavi respectively while left-arm spinners Anukul Roy and Abhishek Sharma were lapped up by Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils for Rs 20 lakh and Rs 55 lakh respectively.
Batting mainstays, captain Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, too impressed the IPL teams with their showing in New Zealand.
Gill, who hit a match-winning 86 in the quarterfinals and is team's leading scorer with 239 runs, went to KKR for Rs 1.8 crore while Shaw was bought for Rs 1.2 crore to Mumbai Indians.
Shaw's opening partner Manjot Kalra too managed a Rs 20 lakh deal with Delhi Daredevils.
However, all these players will have put the post auction euphoria behind and focus on the job at hand.
As rightly put by coach Rahul Dravid, "auction will come every year but not the opportunity play in a World Cup". And place in a World Cup final is at stake.
The highly-rated batsmen will have to be wary of Afridi, who has taken 11 wickets in four games at 10.21 including a six-wicket haul against Ireland.
Pakistan will be more familiar with the conditions, having played their quarterfinal at the Hagley Oval here.
India had played their last game against Bangladesh in Queenstown.
After the quarter-final, the explosive Gill had said that the team was looking forward to play Pakistan.
"We remembered our loss in the Asia Cup and so were determined to win the match (against Bangladesh). As for the Pakistan game, we are looking forward to the match since we did not play them in the Asia Cup. We are sure it will be a good match," he said.