England held their nerve to book a place in the semi-finals of the Under-19 World Cup courtesy of a dramatic three-wicket win over defending champions India.
In-form seamer Matthew Fisher grabbed a trio of early wickets as India lurched to 24 for four having won the toss.
Skipper Vijal Zol dug in to anchor the innings from number three with a gritty 48 and half-centuries by Deepak Hooda and Sarfaraz Khan sealed a recovery that left England chasing 221 for eight.
Ben Duckett scored a stylish 61 and appeared set to ease Will Rhodes’ team towards their target, but India’s spinners dragged them back into the match.
When Joe Clarke became the third player to fall to Kuldeep Yadav’s left-arm chinamen, 23 were still needed but Rob Jones and Rob Sayer remained composed and sealed victory off the first ball of the final over.
England’s pacemen hit their straps immediately after India opted to post a total at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Jack Winslade accounted for Ankush Bains with a brutish short ball that was edged through to Clarke and the wicketkeeper held on when Fisher moved one away from Akhil Herwadkar.
Sanju Samson edged the Yorkshireman’s next delivery to Duckett at slip and although Ricky Bhui kept out the hat-trick ball, he would ultimately fall in similar fashion.
India were restricted to just two boundaries in the opening 20 overs as Zol and Hooda went about their rebuilding job.
Duckett caught Zol at cover off Sayer’s off-spin after the batsman benefitted from Winslade shelling a return catch.
Fog had delayed the start by half-an-hour but when the sun broke through batting conditions eased. Hooda enjoyed supremacy over the England’s bowlers and it required a direct hit from Jonathan Tattersall to see him back to the pavilion.
The final 10 overs cost 74 runs, adding considerable gloss to the India total and Sarfaraz sent them to the halfway point with a spring in their step as consecutive boundaries over cover from the final two balls saw him finish on 52 not out.
England wobbled during the early stages of the chase but Duckett steadied the ship by adding 76 for the fourth wicket alongside Ed Barnard.
The latter holed out to long-on off Aamir Gani and when Duckett chipped Yadav to cover the score was 138 for five, with the match in the balance in the 30th over.
A beautiful piece of bowling from Yadav cleaned up England captain Rhodes before Clarke brought the finish line within sight. The wicketkeeper wanted to bring a finish quickly and launched Yadav for six over deep midwicket, only to be caught by Zol for 42 attempting to repeat the trick.
Jones swept four through fine-leg from the final ball of the penultimate to make England favourites and Sayer then crashed Chama Milind over point to book a last-four showdown with Pakistan and spark jubilant scenes.