India coach Rahul Dravid: “Need to bring A game to the party"
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 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 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.
“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. Ireland’s 189 all out has been the highest total against India so far.
Sri Lanka coach Roger Wijesuriya said his side’s impressive win over England left him optimistic about the semi-final.
“India is a strong side, a good all-round side,” said Wijesuriya. “We know their strengths. I know Indians play spin well but spin bowling is our strength and we will stick to that.
“If we play the way we did against England, there is no reason why we can’t turn the semi-final in our favour.
“Our batsmen did not do well against Pakistan, but they showed up against England to back our bowlers and fielders. The batting has improved which is a good sign.
“We will take on the Indians with a lot of confidence. We have nothing to fear. It should be a very good game.”
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.