Bloemfontein: Left-arm spinner Atharva Ankolekar showed big heart while leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi was all guile in India's 44-run win against New Zealand as they set-up a quarter-final date with Australia in the ICC U-19 World Cup on Friday.
During a rain-hit final group A league encounter reduced to 23-overs per-side, India scored 115 for no loss in 23 overs with openers Yashasvi Jaiswal (57 not out off 72 balls) and Divyansh Saxena (52 no off 62 balls) hitting half-centuries.
New Zealand needed 193 as per DLS method calculations but managed only 147 in 21 overs as India emerged group toppers with six points.
Left-arm orthodox Ankolekar, who played through pain with a fractured finger on his right hand, had figures of 3 for 28 in five overs with some accurate wicket-to-wicket bowling. This was after New Zealand No 3 Fergus Lellman hit him for two sixes off his first two deliveries.
Bishnoi, a Rs 2 crore buy for Kings XI Punjab, is fast turning out to be the biggest star in the junior line-up with his variation and control. He bowled googlies, sliders and top-spinners to end with 4 for 30 from five overs as vice-captain Dhruv Jurel was fantastic behind the stumps with some neat glovework.
India will now meet Australia in the Super League quarter-final at Potchfestroom on 28 January.
Put into bat, both Yashasvi and Divyansh were watchful but didn't wait to punish the loose deliveries. Yashasvi, who will be playing for Rajasthan Royals in the 2020 IPL, again held anchor hitting four boundaries and two sixes.
His opening partner Divyansh was a bit more aggressive as he hit six boundaries in his half-century. Just when they had completed a century stand, the heavens opened up to play spoilsport.
Once New Zealand had a target of 193, they showed intent with some lusty hits reaching 53 in just over five overs before India's most dependable breakthrough provider Bishnoi got into the act.
He slided one past opener Ollie White who had given him the charge to let Jurel complete an easy stumping.
Then it was Atharva, India's Junior Asia Cup final hero, who got into the act after being hit for two consecutive sixes by Lellman. Before that he dropped a catch due to a plastered right hand. However he got other opener Rhys Marieu (42 off 31 balls) caught in deep. Ankolekar then had his revenge on Lellman who was played on and then had Nicholas Lidstone leg before with an arm ball. That was good enough to break New Zealand's resistance as Bishnoi ran through lower middle-order.
Bishnoi, who now has 10 wickets from three group league games, said that he tried to bowl wicket to wicket which yielded results.
"I want to be like Shane Warne as every aspiring leg-spinner," Bishnoi later said.
Skipper Priyam Garg was happy that they had a tough game against New Zealand before facing the Aussies in the semi-final.
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