Defending champions India overcome an ordinary start to beat Bangladesh; comprehensive wins for England and Pakistan

By Sports Desk January 20, 2024

Defending champions, India, are off to a winning start against Bangladesh, while England and Pakistan also secured strong wins on the second day of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024.

India overcame an ordinary start in Bloemfontein to beat Bangladesh by 81 runs. After being rattled by Maruf Mridha at the start, Adarsh Singh and Uday Saharan fought back with fifties to help India to 251/7. Left-arm spinners Saumy Pandey and Musheer Khan then shared six wickets between them to help India to a win.

Spin dominated proceedings in Potchefstroom too, where three-wicket hauls from Farhan Ahmed and Luc Benkenstein helped England to a seven-wicket win over Scotland.

Meanwhile, a brilliant hundred from Shahzaib Khan helped Pakistan post a strong total in East London. Ubaid Shah and other pacers then ran through the Afghanistan batting to give the side a huge net run rate advantage. 

India beat Bangladesh by 81 runs in Bloemfontein

India 251/7 (50 overs) v Bangladesh 167 (45.5 overs) 

Bangladesh decided to bowl first in Bloemfontein, looking to make the most of any early help available.

Left-arm pacer Maruf Mridha bowled with pinpoint accuracy and troubled the India openers. He eventually accounted for Arshin Kulkarni (7) and Musheer Khan (3) in his first spell to leave India in trouble. 

India’s innings was anchored by the left-right combination of Adarsh Singh and skipper Uday Saharan. The duo overcame the guile of Bangladesh bowlers and put together a crucial 116-run stand for the third wicket. Things got tense during the middle overs, when the players engaged in verbal battles amidst India’s rising stand.

Adarsh (74) eventually fell while trying to loft Chowdhury Md Rizwan over mid-off in the 32nd over. 

Bangladesh pressed on after this breakthrough, and soon had Saharan (64), whose composed knock came to an end off Mahfuzur Rahman Rabby’s bowling. 

Useful cameos from Aravelly Avanish (23 from 17) and Sachin Dhas (26 from 20) helped to add crucial runs to the Indian total, but Maruf returned to pick two more wickets and restrict India to 251/7. Maruf finished with an impressive five-wicket haul to announce himself in style. This was a step up for the pacer, as he’d picked a four-wicket haul in a semi-final win against the same opponents in the U19 Asia Cup last month.

Some erratic new ball bowling combined with a studious effort from the Bangladesh openers helped them get off to a confident start. Eventually, India got their first breakthrough when Murugan Abhishek took a brilliant catch at point as Jishan Alam tried to pierce a Raj Limbani delivery past him. 

India vice-captain Saumy Pandey made an impact as soon as he was introduced. His accuracy and persistence got the better of Bangladesh batters, who tried to charge at him to up the scoring rate. Rizwan and Ashiqur Rahman Shibli were cleaned up while trying to go after Pandey.

When Ahrar Amin fell lbw to Kulkarni, Bangladesh had lost four wickets with over 200 to get, and were in dire need of a consolidating act. This came from Ariful Islam and Mohammad Shihab James, who stabilised the innings with a patient stand. However, disciplined bowling from India ensured that the Bangladesh scoring rate didn’t go too high.

It was Musheer’s canny slow left-arm spin that accounted for Ariful, and Bangladesh’s fight wilted. Spin accounted for seven wickets, with Saumy finishing with 4/24.

India’s skipper Uday Saharan discussed his crucial third-wicket stand with Adarsh, which helped his team to a strong position in the first innings.

“We focussed on executing our plans. After the loss of two early wickets, we remained calm. Adarsh batted brilliantly. We knew if we stayed at the wicket, runs will keep coming.”

England beat Scotland by 7 wickets in Potchefstroom

Scotland 174 (49.2) v England 178/3 (26.2 overs)

England captain Ben McKinney elected to bowl first after winning the toss.

Scotland’s watchful start was disrupted by Farhan Ahmed’s double strike. Farhan, the younger brother of England international Rehan Ahmed, accounted for opener Adi Hegde (3) and Bahadar Esakhiel (0) in the 10th over. Scotland then tried to pick pace on the back of a settled partnership between Jamie Dunk and Owen Gould. 

However, England vice-captain Luc Benkenstein weaved his magic in the middle-overs and put his side ahead. Luc, the son of former South Africa international Dale Benkenstein, scalped Dunk, Gould and Ibrahim Faisal to finish with 3/41. Farhan struck once more to end with 3/22. Though Scotland batted for almost 50 overs, they finished with a modest 174.

In response, Jaydn Denly and McKinney got off to a great start. They mixed caution with intent in the first Powerplay, taking on the loose deliveries, and accumulating 68 runs in the period. McKinney took charge between overs 11-14, hitting five boundaries including two sixes to push England closer to the target.

Denly fell while trying to pierce the cover region in the 16th over. However, by then England were merely 69 runs away from their ask. McKinney’s aggression kept his team on track, and they finished the game in the 27th over. 

England skipper Ben McKinney was elated at the result after the game,

“Best start to the tournament. It’s probably the best situation we could’ve had. A few lads got in, and we bowled pretty well. So, I’m pretty happy.”

Pakistan beat Afghanistan by 181 runs in East London 

Pakistan 284/9 (50 overs) v Afghanistan 103 (26.2 overs)

Pakistan skipper Saad Baig won the toss and elected to bat first.

A steady start from Shahzaib Khan and Shamyl Hussain saw Pakistan end the first Powerplay with all ten wickets in the bank. Right-arm pacer Khalil Ahmed helped Afghanistan make early breakthroughs, removing the set Shamyl (17) and Azan Awais (5) in successive overs. 

Saad Baig took charge thereafter, hitting an aggressive 55 from 52. The knock included four sixes off Afghanistan tweakers, even as Pakistan gained a substantial foothold in the middle-overs. The third-wicket stand between Baig and Shahzaib added 92 runs from 90 balls, and saw the latter also free his arms after a sedate start.

Saad eventually fell to the impressive Allah Mohammad Ghanzafar, cleaned up when trying to take on the bowler. Another wicket followed soon after, and Afghanistan sensed a way back. However, a fighting stand between Shahzaib and Muhammad Riazullah brought the Boys in Green back into the game. Despite losing regular wickets in the last 10 overs, Pakistan added 84 runs to finish at a strong total. Shahzaib finished with the second century of the tournament, hitting 10 fours and three sixes in his 106. Khalil starred for Afghanistan with 4/51.

The young Pakistanis got going with the ball early in their innings. Amir Hassan and Ubaid Shah dominated the proceedings by picking three Afghanistan wickets. Ubaid’s scalp included Hassan Eisakhil (19), who had gotten off to a good start with four boundaries to his name. At the end of the 10-over mark, Afghanistan were struggling at 44/3. 

In the second Powerplay, Pakistan pacers continued their attacking lines and complemented them with smart pace variations to run through the Afghanistan lineup. 

Along with Ubaid, Mohammad Zeeshan ran through Afghanistan's middle and lower order. The 6’8” Zeeshan showed his discipline by bowling around a length that troubled the Afghanistan batters. With Khalil Ahmad run out in the 27th over, Afghanistan were bowled out for 103. 

The Player of the Match award winner Shahzaib Khan stated that he planned his attack on the Afghanistan spinners in advance,

“Yes, we played according to a plan. I tried to muscle my shots in the wind’s direction, and to not play against the win. The attempt was also to hit all the shots in the gap.”

 

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