Contrasting hundreds by Sachin Dhas and skipper Uday Saharan were the twin pillars on which India built their commanding 132-run win over Nepal in their final Super Six Group 1 match, which also carried them to the semifinals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup semifinals here on Friday.

Dhas (116, 101 balls) and Saharan (100, 107 balls), who added 215 off 202 balls, lifted India from a tricky 62/3 to a formidable 297/5 after they opted to bat first.

The tournament favourites, who now have eight points, then limited the Himalayan nation to 165 for nine and in the semis, India are all set to face South Africa at Benoni on Tuesday.

However, Nepal made a rather strong start to their chase reaching 65 for 1 in the 14th over before they fell headlong, losing six wickets for a mere 12 runs to be placed at 77 for 7 in the 28th over.

Left-arm spinner Saumy Pandey, who now has 16 wickets to be placed at the second spot in the tournament’s highest wicket-taker list, sparked the collapse with figures of 10-1-29-4.

The only silver lining for Nepal was the unbroken last wicket partnership of Aakash Chand (18 not out) and Durgesh Gupta (29 not out) who put together 45 runs to cover the stipulated 50 overs.

Before Pandey entered the stage, new ball bowler Raj Limbani initiated the downfall by dismissing Deepak Bohara, who managed 22 runs off 42 balls.

Bohara attempted a big shot but fell victim to the pace, offering a simple return catch to the bowler. Pandey soon joined the party.

First, he removed Uttam Magar (8), who struggled to find gaps and fell while attempting an aggressive shot, finding the fielder at mid-on.

Pandey then delivered the ball of the match, clean-bowling Arjun Kumal (26). The delivery that had some bounce straightened to hit the inside of the off-stump.

The Nepalese batting order continued to crumble under relentless pressure.

From being 77/7 in 27.5 overs, skipper Dev Khanal delayed the inevitable with a valiant 33 from 53


But India also struggled to wrap up the issue at this stage that could have given them a fourth successive 200+ margin victory in this event.

The Indians also had an injury scare as regular wicketkeeper batter Aravalli Avanish had to go out with a right-hand injury as Innesh Mahajan kept the wickets.

Earlier, India got off to a brisk start with Adarsh Singh scoring 21 off 18 balls before falling prey to Gulsan Jha’s short ball tactic.

Singh edged one down the leg side to be caught by wicketkeeper Magar, as Nepal made early inroads in the first powerplay.

The Indians were rattled further with the dismissals of Arshin Kulkarni (18) and Priyanshu Moliya (19) in the space of three balls.

However, the momentum shifted dramatically with a game-changing partnership between skipper Saharan and Dhas. Saharan anchored the innings, playing second fiddle to the aggressive Dhas.

Promoted to No. 5 due to the loss of early wickets, Dhas bossed the day with his controlled yet aggressive batting. In previous matches, Dhas batted lower down the order, either at No 6 or 7, that limited his opportunities to express himself.

However, today Dhas asserted himself from the start. The Maharashtra lad showed a keen eye for picking loose deliveries to target specific bowlers and vacant areas on the field to score his runs.

Playing positively, he took control of the situation, scoring around the wicket and keeping the opposition bowlers at bay. He paced his innings beautifully, completing his maiden fifty of the tournament in just 50 balls.

Off-spinner Khanal attempted to contain Dhas by dragging his length back but the batter unleashed a powerful pull shot over wide long-on for a six, demonstrating his clean hitting skills. Dhas played a delightful inside-out shot against off-spinner Bhandari, and the boundary took him to 99.

In the very next delivery, he elegantly nudged the ball to long-on to reach a well-deserved century, which came off 93 balls.
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