Sri Lanka will aim to topple in-form India to seal a place in the finals when the neighbors kick start the first semi-final of the Under-19 Cricket World Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium at 8.30 this morning.
Sri Lankan youth have been in prime form and made it to the semis after defeating a strong England team by six wickets. Bundling out England for just 184 in the quarter-final on Sunday, they surpassed the score in only the 36th over.
This is the third time Sri Lanka have reached the semi-finals since the inception of the tournament in 1988. In 2000 in Colombo, they reached the final, where they lost to the Mohammad Kaif-led Indian team, while in 2010 in New Zealand, Sri Lanka reached the last four and finished fourth. Sri Lanka will pin their hopes on opener Avishka Fernando, who scored 95 off 96 balls in the quarters.
Apart from Fernando, Kaveen Bandara and skipper Charith Asalanka are the batsmen the team will rely on to do the job against India. In the bowling department, leg-spinner Wanidu Hasanranga, who grabbed three wickets on Sunday, will aim to give the three-time champions some trouble with his variation.
Apart from Hasanranga, fast bowler Asitha Fernando will look to exploit the Indian top-order with his pace. Surprise package Kamindu Mendis, who can bowl both right-arm off breaks and slow left-arm orthodox, has all that it takes to surprise a batsman.
On the other hand, India have been unbeaten in the tournament so far and have outclassed all four opponents yet in all departments of the game. En route to the semi-finals, the three-time winners thrashed Namibia by 197 runs, courtesy a superb ton by opener Rishabh Pant in the quarter-final. India’s batting has been strong right through, with the top-order standing tall and delivering when the team needed it the most. Besides Pant, skipper Ishan Kishan has given India good starts but is still in search of a big score. Middle-order batsman Sarfaraz Khan, with a couple of handy half-centuries, helped India post some respectable scores.
Sri Lanka Under-19s won the toss and elected to field
India U-19 XI: Ishan Kishan(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Anmolpreet Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Armaan Jaffer, Washington Sundar, Mahipal Lomror, Mayank Dagar, Rahul Batham, Avesh Khan, Khaleel Ahmed
Sri Lanka U-19 XI: Avishka Fernando, Kaveen Bandara, Kamindu Mendis, Charith Asalanka(c), Shammu Ashan, Vishad Randika(w), Wanidu Hasaranga, Damitha Silva, Lahiru Kumara, Thilan Nimesh, Asitha Fernando