ICC U-19 World Cup 2018: Shubman Gill, Ishan Porel guide India colts to final

Shubman Gill scored magnificent hundred while paceman Ishan Porel took 4-17 as Dravid’s wards thrashed Pakistan by 203 runs to set up the title clash against Australia.

It was Gill’s sixth fifty-plus score on the spin in Youth ODIs, and the first century by an Indian in this edition of the Under-19 World Cup.

At the end of the second semifinal in Christchurch on Tuesday, the India Under-19 team’s chief selfie-stick holder, Ishan Porel, assembled the whole squad on the field and took ‘usies’. At the other end of Hagley Oval, a group of Indian fans were chanting, ‘Dravid, Dravid’… The coach, usually reserved, obliged, signing autographs and posing for pictures. The Indian colts had just vanquished Pakistan by 203 runs to make a record seventh Youth World Cup final, and it was only fair to celebrate the occasion.

It was India U-19’s first meeting with their Pakistani counterparts in four years. And they just rolled over their opponents. Porel’s 4/17 in six overs saw Pakistan slump to 69 all out, chasing 273 for victory in batting-friendly conditions. But the excellent Shubman Gill was the prime architect of the victory, scoring 102 not out off 94 balls. It was his sixth fifty-plus score on the spin in Youth ODIs. But more than runs and consistency, the Punjab lad oozed class.

The highlight of Gill’s knock was a ramp off Arshad Iqbal. The Pakistan seamer had earlier rattled the Indian middle order, taking three wickets in three overs. He hurled an 88mph delivery that reared off a length. Gill contemptuously sent it to the third man fence. It was a statement of intent that wrested the psychological advantage for India.

Otherwise, Gill was all about dismantling the Pakistan attack brick by brick. With India losing the bulk of their middle order in the game, the 18-year-old had to keep an eye on the run rate as well. He didn’t change his style, focusing on sharp singles and twos instead. His century had only seven fours, but he still scored at a strike rate in excess of 108.

Gill’s innings was also a celebration of his range. He once adjusted brilliantly to play a pull off Muhammad Musa — who at times clocked 90mph — past mid-wicket for a boundary. Another four off off-spinner Ali Zaryab showed Gill’s nimble footwork, as he danced down the track aiming long-on and then at the last moment, with a flick of the wrist, sent the ball to the deep mid-wicket fence. For his first 50 runs, he hardly played a risky shot. At the death — he scored 26 runs off the last 15 balls he faced — Gill selflessly threw caution to the wind.

Lucky charm
Gill carries a red handkerchief, a la Mohinder Amarnath, when he bats. It’s his lucky charm. And things have been rosy of late. Amid the U-19 World Cup purple patch, he also bagged a Rs 1.8 crore IPL contract with Kolkata Knight Riders. At the post-match presentation, Gill, the Man of the Match, was asked about his preference between red-ball and white-ball cricket. The youngster said: “Nowadays, cricket is all about adaptability. I would like to play all three formats.”

Both Gill and his skipper Prithvi Shaw look class acts in the making. The latter got a start on Tuesday but was run out for 41. However, Shaw more than made up for it with his captaincy and field placements. Collectively, India outplayed Pakistan in all departments. They batted well and bowled beautifully, and their fielding was top-class. Young India revelled under pressure and embraced the big occasion. Pakistan, on the other hand, fielded like amateurs, and choked under pressure.

India batted first and enjoyed some Pakistan fielding profligacy upfront. Muhammad Zaid dropped Manjot Kalra twice at slip and Saad Khan gave the opener a reprieve, bungling an easy run-out opportunity. Shaw, too, survived a run-out chance, when Shaheen Afridi missed at the bowler’s end. Capitalising on the errors, the Indian openers put on 89 runs, going at almost six runs per over. But Shaw’s run out and Kalra’s departure inside two overs somewhat dented the progress. Then, Iqbal barged in, dismissing Harvik Desai, Riyan Parag and Abhishek Sharma in quick succession. At 166/5, it was anybody’s game.

But the India U-19 No. 3 found the perfect foil in Anukul Roy, whose batting encapsulated grit and smartness. The pair did the resurrection job with aplomb, eschewing risks before reaching the 40-over mark.

At the back end of the innings, Roy started plundering the Pakistan bowlers before being caught behind down the leg side off Musa in the 46th over. He added 67 runs with Gill for the sixth wicket to frustrate the opponents. And Pakistan players started to make their feelings known with fielding lapses. Gill, meanwhile, calmly progressed towards his hundred, eventually getting it in dramatic fashion.

Gill took strike on 99, with the final ball remaining. Musa bowled full and Gill’s lofted drive went to Khan at long-off, who dropped the catch. It wouldn’t have counted anyway because the bowler had overstepped. Gill became the first Indian to hit a hundred in this edition of the tournament. After the innings break, Porel ran through the Pakistan batting.

The Bengal boy had suffered a bruised heel during India’s tournament opener against Australia. He sat out the remaining group league fixtures, returning to the fold in the quarterfinal against Bangladesh. There, he created pressure by conceding only eight runs in a five-over spell. His fast bowling partners, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, benefited from his economy. Today, Mavi set things up for Porel with three consecutive maidens. The former also took a blinder in the deep to help Porel take his first wicket.

Zaid, the Pakistan opener, had picked a leg-stump half-volley beautifully and clipped it towards fine-leg but Mavi judged it beautifully. Noticing that he was going over the ropes, Mavi threw the ball back and took the catch on the second attempt. Excellent presence of mind from a 19-year-old.

Imran Shah couldn’t handle the extra bounce from Porel and a thick edge flew towards wide third slip, where Shaw had moved just before the delivery, anticipating the edge. The India U-19 skipper took a sharp catch. His thinking was even sharper.

Shaw had moved back to gully, when Zaryab, after getting stuck for a while, cut a good length delivery from Porel straight to him. Pakistan slumped to 20/3. It soon became 28/4, with Porel taking his fourth wicket and removing Ammad Alam. Mavi grabbed the sliced drive at point.

Under pressure, Pakistan showed little stomach for a fight, with their lower-middle order capitulating against India’s spin. Pakistan eventually folded in 29.3 overs for their lowest total — only three double-digit scores in their innings — in the tournament’s history. Pakistan captain, Khan, rued the missed chances. India didn’t mind. They will play the final against Australia at Tauranga on Saturday.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

14 − three =