U-19 World Cup: Taste of close game will be good in the final, says India captain Uday Saharan

India and South Africa played out a close contest in the semi-finals of the ICC U-19 World Cup at Benoni. India captain Uday Saharan said edging the hosts in a 2-wicket thriller would help them in the pressure situation of the final on Sunday.

U-19 World Cup: How Saharan-Dhas helped India beat South Africa

India, the defending champions, are into their fifth successive U-19 World Cup final and ninth overall.

India, who had breezed past their opponents until now, had to fight till the end to beat South Africa by two-wickets in the last-four clash to set up a final against Pakistan or Australia.

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India reach their fifth successive Men’s #U19WorldCup Final 🤩

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— ICC (@ICC) February 6, 2024

“It is a great feeling to reach the final. We got a taste of close games, and that will be good in the final. We don’t let the morale get low in the dressing room at all — our environment and coaches are superb,” Saharan, who was adjudged Player of the Match for his 81 runs, told the host broadcaster.

Saharan (81) and Sachin Dhas (96) stitched a brilliant 171-run partnership for the fifth wicket to rescue India from a precarious 32/4 while chasing 245.

The right-hander said they were not under pressure at any point. “Yes, we were well behind at one point. But we kept saying that we have to bat till the end. It was a matter of one partnership. So I was just telling myself again and again that I had to take it deep,” he added.

The India captain hit just six boundaries during his 81 from 124 balls knock. When asked about the restraint, he said he got it from his father, who also wanted to become a cricketer.

“He also used to play in the same manner, taking it deep,” Saharan said. “So I tried to do the same. I knew I could play the big shots at the end if required. I knew as long as I was at the crease, the game was ours.

“When I walked in, the ball was seaming around. There was bounce as well. So I had to be conscious of that and could not play my shots freely. As the ball got older, it started coming onto the bat better. The odd ball was still bouncing but by then we were set and could handle it.”

South Africa captain Juan James admitted that they struggled to break the Dhas and Saharan partnership. “When they were batting, when we had them four down, Uday and Sachin batted really well. That’s something we’ve struggled with the whole tournament (breaking partnerships). But we never gave up. Even now, we were fighting till the very end. That’s something that makes me really proud as a captain – seeing everyone fight like that,” said James.

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