Townsville: Defending 209 in the ICC Under-19 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Thursday, India's bowlers pulled out all stops after a middle-and late-order batting collapse to win by nine runs.
New Zealand's Cam Fletcher played a valiant knock of 53 but it failed to provide a stabilising effect to a shaky Kiwi chase after Will Young's boys bowled well after putting India in to bat.
The openers Michael Davidson and Joe Carter couldn't provide a platform in terms of runs but played out most of the new ball as the first wicket fell on the last ball of the 10th over when Davidson was dismissed by Kamal Passi for 6 with the score reading 29.
Carter got a life when he was dropped in the slips by skipper Unmukt Chand and took the score to 53 with Ben Horne. But in the space of next 10 runs, Horne (10), Carter (30) and Young (5) were sent back, which put India right on top. Harmeet Singh got rid of Horne and Young, while Ravikant Singh took care of Carter.
Fletcher and Robert O'Donnell then joined hands to take the score past 100 and lift the sagging Kiwi spirits. They concentrated on ones and twos to relieve the pressure and stitched a partnership of 56 which was broken by Man-of-the-Match Baba Aparajith, who beat O'Donnell in flight and was offered a simple caught and bowled chance.
The Kiwi chase didn't recover after that, with the Indians tightening their grip on the match to win by 9 runs in the end. Sandeep Sharma (2 for 36), Ravikant (2 for 49) and Harmeet (2 for 30) took two wickets each, while Passi and Aparajith ended with one apiece.
Earlier, India's middle order spoiled the good work done by their top three as India lost eight wickets for 77 runs to end up on 209 for 9.
Unmukt and Prashant Chopra avoided any early hiccups in swinging conditions at Tony Ireland stadium, and kept New Zealand at bay with a half-century stand. Unmukt was the chief contributor with 31 off 44 balls before he fell to an intelligent change of pace of Connor Neynens (51 for 1).
Chopra and Aparajith then enjoyed eased-out batting conditions with a partnership of 81. Aparajith looked in good touch from the start and started milking the slow bowlers. Chopra completed a patient half-century but fell soon after for a 104-ball 52 to Ed Nuttall, triggering a collapse.
From 132 for 1, the score turned into 139 for 4, with Aparajith (44) and Vijay Zol (0) falling in the batting Powerplay from the 36th to the 40th over. While Aparajith was scalped by legbreak bowler Ish Sodhi, Zol fell to Jacob Duffy. Akshdeep Nath (11) and Smit Patel (15 not out) tried to revive the Indian innings but couldn't take their partnership past the 30-run mark.
Young's decisions to bring in part-time left-arm spinner Horne into the attack at death proved to be an inspired move. Horne bowled a spell of six overs for 28 runs, in which he took the wickets of Hanuma Vihari (22), Nath (11) and Harmeet (6). He was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers.