India, who are in excellent form, will enter the first semi-final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup against host South Africa on 6 February as a strong contender for victory. Defending champions India have made it to the last four on the back of five consecutive wins in the tournament and have dominated in almost all the matches due to their all-round performance. The Indian team has not been dependent on any particular player but all the players have contributed when needed. While the batsmen were successful in scoring a lot of runs, the bowlers were successful in defeating the opposing teams and the margin of victory was also quite good.
With two centuries and one half-century, 18-year-old Mushir Khan is the most successful batsman of the current tournament. He has scored 334 runs in five matches at an average of 83.50. Indian captain Uday Saharan is also in good form and has scored 304 runs with one century and two half-centuries at an average of 61.60. Sachin Dhaas scored 116 runs in India's last Super Six match against Nepal when the team was in trouble after losing three wickets for 62 runs.
The opposing teams found it difficult to face Indian vice-captain and left-arm spinner Swami Kumar Pandey. He has taken 16 wickets at an economy rate of 2.17 and is third in the list of most successful bowlers of the tournament.
Pandey tightened the noose on the opposition batsmen by controlling the run rate, which benefited Naman Tiwari (nine wickets) and Raj Limbani (four wickets). Apart from the success in this tournament, India has also performed well against South Africa recently which makes it a contender for victory. If India wins then there is a possibility of a clash between India and Pakistan in the final.
Pakistan will face Australia in the second semi-final here. Before starting their World Cup campaign, India had defeated South Africa in two consecutive matches while chasing in the tri-series, which will boost the morale of the Saharan-led team.
However, there will be a different kind of pressure in the knockout matches and the first semi-final will mainly be a contest between the Indian batsmen and in-form South African fast bowler Kwena Mafaka.
Mafaka has taken five or more wickets in an innings thrice in five matches and is the most successful bowler of the current tournament with 18 wickets. He single-handedly ensured South Africa's victory in the last two matches. This left-arm fast bowler took six wickets for 21 runs in the host team's final Super Six match against Sri Lanka.
India: Uday Saharan (captain), Arshin Kulkarni, Adarsh Singh, Rudra Mayur Patel, Sachin Dhaas, Priyanshu Molia, Mushir Khan, Aravelli Avnish Rao, Swami Kumar Pandey, Murugan Abhishek, Inesh Mahajan, Dhanush Gowda, Aaradhya Shukla, Raj Limbani and Naman Tiwari.
South Africa: Euan James (captain), Esosa Ehewaba, Raek Daniels, Kwena Mafaka, Dewan Marais, Nqobani Mokoena, Riley Norton, Romashan Pillay, Sipho Potasane, Ntando Zuma, Luan-Dre Pretorius, Richard Selatswane, Steve Stoke, David Teiger and Oliver Whitehead.
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