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Indians enjoy a slight edge

Dubai: Having won all their group-stage matches convincingly, defending champions India will have a slight edge when they lock horns with England in the quarter finals of the under-19 World Cup, here, on Saturday.

In-form India had notched up a mammoth 245-run win over Papua New Guinea (PNG) in their last round-robin match to top Group A and having posted 300-plus runs on a difficult batting wicket, the Vijay Zol-captained side will fancy their chances at the Dubai International Stadium.

India’s victory margin was the seventh-biggest in the history of youth ODIs.

England, however, are no pushovers as they also have proven players in their ranks, who have impressed in the tournament.

The Indians kick-started their campaign with a 40-run victory over arch-rivals Pakistan. They struggled a bit against Scotland before pulling off a five-wicket win in their second match. The holders then roared back to form with a thrashing of PNG on a Sharjah track that was not one of the best for batting.

Apart from captain Zol, all eyes will also be on Sanju Samson, who has been having a great tournament.

The 19-year-old Sanju, who plays for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, had smashed his way to a 48-ball 85 against the hapless PNG. He has been tackling world-class bowlers in the IPL and has an aggressive batting style.

Provided the openers give the side a decent start, it could be difficult for the English bowlers to contain the Indian middle-order, with Zol and Samson holding fort. Both the openers, Ankush Bains and Akhil Herwadkar, didn’t do too badly in their last match, with the former scoring a half-century.

Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav has been the most impressive Indian bowler in tournament, and he is expected to play a key role Saturday as well. He had returned with impressive figures of four for 10 against PNG. He will look to maintain his reputation, being captain Zol’s go-to bowler.