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U-19 World Cup: Rishabh Pant’s fastest fifty mauls Nepal

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Rishabh Pant

Image Courtesy: © Facebook - ICC

U-19 World Cup: Rishabh Pant’s fastest fifty mauls Nepal

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Arun S Kaimal

02/01/2016

Nepal, who created upsets against New Zealand and Ireland to enter the quarter-final, came into the last group match against India as a team to watch out for. But no one could have foreseen the mauling they received from the Indian team and especially Rishabh Pant as the Boys in Blue registered a seven-wicket victory to top Group D.

Brief scores: Nepal U-19 169/8 in 48 overs (Sandeep Sunar 37(73), Avesh Khan 3/34, Washington Sundar 2/20, Mayank Dagar 2/32) lost to India U-19 175/3 in 18.1 overs (Pant 78(24), Kishan 52(40), Tamang 2/41) by seven wickets.

After winning the toss, Indian captain Ishan Kishan decided to field first on a foggy day at Dhaka. Nepal got off to a terrible start losing Sunil Dhamala in the first over with Avesh Khan again striking early. Nepal's troubles continued as Yogendra Karki and captain Raju Rijal departed in quick succession to make matters worse for the minnows.

With Indian bowlers not giving an inch to capitalize on, the procession to the dressing room continued with the batsmen departing one after the other. Opener Sandeep Sunar and Rajbir Singh brought some respectability to the innings scoring 37 and 35 respectively to push the score up. But their rebuilding efforts came painstakingly slow as the overs ran ahead of them to end their innings at 169/8.

Avesh Khan once again starred for the Indian team with the ball taking three wickets for 34 runs, while spinner Mayank Dagar and Washington Sundar chipped in with two wickets each to add to the misery of the young Nepal team.

Chasing 170 was never a huge task for the Indians, who had comfortably scored 250-plus totals in the first two matches, but the audacity with which they crushed the Nepal bowlers will give them some sleepless nights. Following in the footsteps of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambir and Shikhar Dhawan, another Delhi boy Rishabh Pant raced off the blocks with a mission to finish the chase before twenty overs.

He moved towards the off-side, got down on one knee and struck pacer Bhurtel through midwicket for a boundary off the very first ball to assert his intent. If Bhurtel escaped with a minor punishment, his bowling partner Aarif Sheikh was not so lucky with Pant taking a liking to his length balls dispatching him to the boundaries for two maximums and four in the second over. With Pant throwing a “Sehwag-esque” show, captain Ishan Kishan seemed content to remain at the non-striker's end to get a first hand view of the mauling.

There was no stopping as Pant took India past 50 in 3.5 overs to make the Nepal bowling line-up look like a bunch of school boys. He raced away to the fastest U-19 International fifty in 18 balls to put his name in the reckoning for the IPL auction. The opener was not finished, and when Dipendra Airee came in to try his luck, Pant smashed him thrice over the boundary to take 23 runs off the over and guide India past hundred in the eighth over.

The current fastest U-19 100 was off 53 balls, and Pant looked set to break it comfortably before Tamang bowled him for 78 off 24 balls to keep the record of Pakistan's Kamran Ghulam intact. The wicketkeeper’s innings included nine boundaries and five mammoth sixes as he set India towards an easy victory. With 46 runs required of 39 overs, Nepal was never in the game, and the young Indian team finished it in the nineteenth over with Sarfraz Khan smashing leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane over the long off boundary to register a seven-wicket victory.

(Also Read: Can India win The ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2016?)

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