South Africa’s U19 World Cup ended in tears after they were edged out by India in a tense semi-final at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Tuesday.
In what was their first match away from what had become their fortress in Potchefstroom, the Junior Proteas managed to post 244-7 after they lost the toss and were put in to bat first.
Lhuan-dre Pretorius top-scored with 76 off 102 balls (six fours, three sixes) while Richard Seletswane hit 64 off 100 balls (four fours, two sixes), while captain Juan James scored 24 and Oliver Whitehead 22.
The South Africans then made a storming start with the ball by reducing the visitors to 32-4. However, a defining 171-run partnership between Sachin Dhas, who scored 96 off 95 balls (11 fours, one six), and skipper Uday Saharan, who contributed 81 off 124 balls (six fours) took the game away from Malibongwe Maketa’s side and India eventually crossed the line with seven balls to spare.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the home side in a tournament in which they showed so much promise – the bowling in the end by star men Kwena Maphaka (3-32) and Tristan Luus (3-37) typifying the fight they have shown in the competition.
Although they may not have been at their best with the bat, they still managed to post a competitive total thanks in the main to in-form Pretorius and Seletswane’s top score of the competition. Raj Limbani (3-60) and Musheer Khan (2-43) were the main wicket-takers for the Indians.
In reply, Luus did all the damage as he got rid of Musheer, Arshin Kulkarni and Priyanshu Moliya after Maphaka – one of the biggest stars of the tournament – had Adarsh Singh for a first ball duck.
It was tough from there, though, as the Dhas-Saharan fifth-wicket stand sapped all the energy out of the South Africans.
They did hit back at the end after Maphaka landed another double, but by then it was too late as India held on.