Benoni, Feb 7: After playing a key role in making India emerge victorious over South Africa in the U19 Men’s World Cup semi-final, captain Uday Saharan said he knew it was just a matter of ‘one partnership’ and that the match would then fall in their favour.
Chasing 245 in the first semi-final, South Africa reduced India to 32/4. Saharan and Sachin Dhas added 171 runs for the fifth wicket stand to take India closer to target. Though Dhas fell for 96 off 95 balls, Saharan made 81 off 124 balls before being run-out at closing stage of the match, following which Raj Limbani hit the winning four to take India into their fifth consecutive final.
"There was nothing going on in my mind. I had the belief in myself. My only thought was that I would play till the end. I knew it was a matter of one partnership and the match would be ours. So I was just telling myself again and again that I had to take it deep.
"He (my father) also used to play in the same manner, taking it deep. 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," said Saharan at the end of the match.
Asked on what was the discussion between him and Dhas during their stay at the crease, Saharan said: "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.
"When I was in the middle, I was telling Sachin - or actually everyone who came in - only one thing: 'Just stay there till the end. I am here. If you are also here, we will surely get the runs. It will not happen that we are batting and we will not score the runs.' Outside the boundary line, our coaching staff is so good they never let the mood drop."
India entered the ongoing competition as defending champions and in all, it is their ninth time of being in the Men’s U19 World Cup final, with their title clash to happen on February 11. Their opponent could be either Australia or Pakistan, which will be decided following the second semi-final clash on Thursday.
"It's a great feeling winning the semi-final," Saharan said. "Finally, there was a close game. In a way, it was good practice for us. I am happy that we have reached the final under my captaincy as well (ends in laughter)," concluded Saharan. (IANS)