In thriller vs Pak, India make it a tail to remember
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A month and a half ago in Kuala Lumpur, India twice met Pakistan during the under-19 Asia Cup. The first time, when they faced off in the league stage, the Indians lost by one run. In the final, they chased again, and tied.
The next time the subcontinental neighbours met, in the quarterfinals of the under-19 World Cup at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville, India found themselves chasing once again. They only needed to score 137, compared to the 280-plus targets they had been set in both Asia Cup encounters, but it wasn't too long before the echo of recent events began assailing skipper Unmukt Chand.
Off the last ball of the 41st over, Azizullah picked up his third wicket, bowling Ravikant Shukla, to leave India nine down with ten runs to get. India had lost their last four wickets for just seven runs. The ten they needed must have seemed like a hundred. But Chand didn't think his team would lose. To do so would be to defy logical progression.
"Thanks to results in the Asia Cup, I knew that we would win even if we just had one wicket in hand," Chand said.
But this certainty still needed to be tempered with a bit of superstition. A handful of the Indians, including Chand, got off their unlucky spots in the dressing room and ventured to the edge of the boundary. Harmeet Singh and Sandeep Sharma, numbers 8 and 11, began inching closer and closer to the target.
Harmeet, more renowned for his left-arm spin, had given the Indian team management a headache on the eve of the quarterfinal. They had begun the tournament with two left-arm spinners in their lineup. "After that match, we realised that this wasn't really a wicket for two spinners," said coach Bharat Arun. "Harmeet then fell ill, so he missed our last two group matches. Today, we wanted to play three fast bowlers, and so couldn't play both Vikas and Harmeet."
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