India set to take on buoyant Sri Lanka in U19 WC semis

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Mirpur, Feb. 08 (ANI): Rahul Dravid-coached India will rely on its all-round strengths to put it across buoyant Sri Lanka in the first semi-final of the Under19 Cricket World Cup in Mirpur on Tuesday.

The power-packed Indians breezed through Group D with an all-win record against New Zealand, Nepal and Ireland, before crushing Namibia by 197 runs in the quarter-final.

Sri Lanka bounced back after a 23-run defeat to Pakistan in the last Group B match to stun a strong England side by six wickets in the quarter-final.

The in-form India side is rated as favourite, having won a tri-series in Sri Lanka last December, which also featured England, but Dravid refused to take victory for granted.

“We know what to expect from them,” said Dravid. “They have a couple of seamers and a lot of good spinners. They bowl a lot of spin. Having said that, they also know what to expect from us.

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“It should be a good contest. We have been playing very good cricket of late and the lead-up to the tournament was good.

“We need to play well, irrespective of whether we bat or bowl first. If we play good cricket and bring our A game to the party, we will give ourselves a good chance to win.”

India’s batting has been led by aggressive left-handed opener Rishabh Pant, who followed a 18-ball half-century against Nepal with 111 off 96 balls in the quarter-final.

Sarfaraz Khan has shored up the middle-order with three half-centuries in four matches.

Seamer Avesh Khan, with nine wickets in the tournament, and left-arm spinner Mahipal Lomror (seven) have led a steady Indian attack that has bowled out the rivals in three of the four matches.

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Ireland’s 189 all out has been the highest total against India so far.

The winner will meet either host Bangladesh or the West Indies in the final on 14 February.

India will feature in its seventh semi-final, having won the tournament thrice. Sri Lanka, looking for their maiden title, will be appearing in its third semi-final.

When the tournament was last held in Bangladesh in 2004, Pakistan won the title defeating the West Indies in the final. India finished third and Sri Lanka was fifth. (ANI)

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