Words of the coach of U19 skipper Yash Dhull comes true after fighting century

On the eve of the semi-final against Australia, Yash Dhull was reminded about the contrasting career graphs of two of his senior state mates – Delhi’s Virat Kohli and Unmukt Chand – who like him had led the India under-19 team. The shy boy, overawed by the attention of the world media, shook his head, acknowledged the need to upgrade to reach the next level and gave a short reply. Needing a translator by his side to negotiate questions in English, Dhull gave a short and matter-of-fact reply. “I will have to work doubly hard,” he said.

Dhull, on Wednesday, showed he had the mental strength to put his head down and avert a crisis. At 37/2 in 13th overs, India had lost both its openers. The pair of Angkrish Raghuvanshi (6) and Harnoor Singh (16) had finally failed in the tournament where they had made it a habit to put up tall scores. The Indian team was facing an unfamiliar situation in the most crucial game of the World Cup. Across formats and in any age category, Australia at the World Cup is seen as the high hurdle. If you beat them, the Cup isn’t too far from your grasp.

And in the first hour of play, India, it seems, was getting intimidated by the Boys in Yellow. But Dhull and his deputy Shaik Rasheed took control and eventually stepped on the pedal. Dhull’s run-a-ball 110 and Rasheed’s 94 helped India to a total of 290/5.

When Dhull eventually got out, an unfortunate run out ending his innings, the team’s total was 241 and it was the game’s 46th over. Early in the innings, Dhull and Rasheed had milked the two Australian spinners Jack Sinfield and skipper Cooper Connolly. Playing like old ODI hands, they would drive the ball straight to long on and long off fielders and rotate strike. The spin pair that enjoyed great success in the tournament would go wicketless in the game because of the strategy. They weren’t very economical too as India’s heroes for the day punished most of the loose balls.

The game-changing long partnership between Dhull and Rasheed meant India had wickets in hand for the final slog. The lower order batsmen made most of the cushion provided to them by the No.3 and 4. There was a shower of sixes towards the end with wicket-keeper Dinesh Bana hitting two in his 4-ball 20.

Though, it was Bana who was responsible for the cheer around the ground at the break, it was Dhull who had made a point in the World Cup semi-final against Australia. He had also proved his coach Pradeep Kochar, a former First-Class player, right. Before the team’s departure Kochar had said, “Yash doesn’t let pressure affect him. He was sensible, calm, and controlled his emotions well. Youngsters find it hard to handle the pressure of expectations these days. Yash is an exception.” And he is also ready to work “doubly hard”.

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