Despite losing first four wickets for just 32 runs in their chase of 245, Sachin and skipper Uday Saharan maintained an unwavering belief in their abilities to hunt down the total.
Sachin’s aggressive 95-ball 96 coupled with Uday’s composed 81 off 124 balls, orchestrated a remarkable recovery and win as India entered their ninth U-19 World Cup final.
“The plan was to bat till the end. We had the belief that we could take it all the way. But it’s fine (as we couldn’t complete the chase), but we won that match and that’s what matters. I was telling Uday that we would play till the end,” Sachin said at the post-match press conference.
“We thought we would take our time, pace our innings, and understand the opposition bowling attack. Always the conversation between us was to bat as long as possible so that we could manoeuvre the game.”
The duo shared a partnership of 171 runs for the fifth wicket to not just help India recover after the early blows but also take them closer to the target.
“South Africa were bowling well. So it was a bit tough. But Uday and I had to believe, and we thought that one big partnership could win us the game.”
Asked about the tri-series here before the World Cup, Sachin said, “That tournament (in South Africa before World Cup) helped us a lot. We got used to the pitch, the weather and the conditions here. We got good practice, we bonded well. Our batters showed good form, so that series really helped.
“Uday has also batted well throughout the tournament. Also, he backed me throughout our partnership, he kept on encouraging that we have to do it and that we can do it. So all credit goes to Uday.”
Title contenders India had it quite easy until the semifinals, winning all their matches without much ado.
“Last time too, we were the champions and we will try to play good cricket and win the tournament. The belief in the team is very strong.
“It’s not about making a statement. But I feel teams by now must have known that we can do well both while batting first and while chasing,” Sachin said.
Prevailing in a close match was something that would only help benefit the team in the summit showdown, where they would meet either Australia or Pakistan on Sunday.
“Winning such a close game gives you a different feeling,” Uday said.
Asked about his partnership with Sachin, he said, “I enjoy batting with Sachin, he has a very positive intent, always on the lookout for boundaries while also taking the singles. Our aim was to stay there till the end and finish the job for our team.
“There was a bit of pressure building towards the end with a bowler coming in to bat. But, with Raj (Limbani) hitting that six straight on arrival was a huge relief for me. From there, the game became quite easy and I thought Raj would also get the job done.”
(With inputs from PTI)