Yash Dhull played a captain's knock of 82, while left-arm spinner Vicky Ostwal grabbed a five-wicket haul as India began their campaign in the U-19 ICC Cricket World Cup here at the Providence Stadium with a crushing 45-run victory over South Africa in their opening Group B match on Sunday (IST).
The four-time champions, after setting a target of 233 for the Proteas to win, bundled out the 2014 champions for just 187 in 45.4 overs with Ostwal doing most of the damage to the South African top and middle-order.
After South African left-arm seamer Aphiwe Mnyanda had caused mayhem with the new ball to reduce India to 11/2, captain Dhull strode to the crease and showcased all the fighting spirit that has seen India emerge as the most successful team in the tournament since the turn of the century.
Dhull struck a clinical 82 off 100 deliveries to steer his side towards a competitive total as Kaushal Tambe (35), Shaik Rasheed (31) and Nishant Sindhu (27) also made important contributions.
Mnyanda's early menace was supplemented by fellow opening bowler Matthew Boast's 3/40 as South Africa dismissed India for 232 in 46.5 overs to leave the clash on a knife's edge at the interval.
Rajvardhan Hangargekar set the tone in the second innings by dismissing Ethan-John Cunningham in the first over but Dewald Brevis (65) and Valentine Kitime's (25) half-century partnership kept the game evenly poised.
South African captain George Van Heerden made 36 in the middle order but fabulous figures of five for 28 from Ostwal, who was adjudged 'Player of the Match' ensured India continued to suffocate their opponents, returning figures of 5/28 off his 10 overs.
Wickets tumbled at regular intervals as South Africa left themselves with too much to do and India, the only country to win the ICC U19 Men's CWC four times, got their campaign off to a flyer.
South Africa required 100 runs to win with seven wickets in hand and more than 15 overs remaining. But the fall of the dangerous Brevis prompted a collapse as the Proteas lost six wickets for 27 runs to put a stop on their run chase.
South Africa may have slumped to defeat, but in Brevis they have a future star on their hands. The young batter, nicknamed 'Baby AB', saw him bring up his half-century with a massive six.
Earlier, only a mix-up between the wickets denied Dhull the century that he deserved after a fine knock of 82 from 100 balls to anchor his side's innings. Had the 19-year-old been able to extend his stay at the crease, India would have managed an imposing total.
The right-hander has now scored three half-centuries on the bounce, with this innings following 50s against Australia and the West Indies during the warm-up matches.
Brief scores: India Under-19s 232 in 46.5 overs (Shaik Rasheed 31, Yash Dhull 82, Kaushal Tambe 35; Matthew Boast 3/40, Aphiwe Mnyanda 2/29) beat South Africa 187 in 45.4 overs (Dewald Brevis 65, George Van Heerden 36; Vicky Ostwal 5/28, Raj Bawa 4/47) by 45 runs.