India's Supersub
Mayank Tehlan

Four dropped catches played a major part in Sri Lanka’s loss to India by four wickets in the final U-19 World Cup group match. India finished top of the group and play West Indies in the quarter-final.

Sri Lanka made the bold move on winning the toss to bat first as conditions, following heavy overnight rain and subsequent ground humidity would have been welcomed by the bowlers. Losing Sameera Zoysa for 0 in the first over, didn’t help but the innings regained momentum and by the end of the fifteenth over Sri Lanka were 71 for 1 and cruising. The pitch was playing true and actually favoured the batsmen with its easy pace. The mid-point of the innings saw two quick wickets to fall, however and at 117 for 4, which soon became 134 for 6, Sri Lanka were in a little bit of trouble. All thoughts of 250 gone.

Sri Lanka’s captain Angelo Mathews bating at five, held things together and was last man out, having guided his team past 200, caught in the deep for 52 (69 deliveries, 4 fours, 2 sixes).

Chasing 207, India themselves were in early trouble, losing three wickets in the first six overs to Tissara Perera. Ironically, in view of what was going to happen later, Gaurav Dhiman fell to a wonder-catch at third man that had spectators gasping. It was then déjà vu all over again as what cost Sri Lanka the Final of the Afro-Asia U-19 Cup happened all over again. Rohit Sharma and Mayank Tehlan shared a 132-run stand, giving the fielders four chances to practise their catches. Sharma was dropped twice before India had passed 50. Sri Lanka lost their snap, crackle and pop and Mathews having to withdraw from the field in the middle of his third over with a thigh strain did not help either.

Sri Lanka’s coach Sumithra Warnakulasuriya said that although his team had qualified for the quarter-finals (where they will play Australia), “This was a game we should have won. But I still thought we played well today. We should have got about 230-240. Even with this total of 207 we could have still won.” India’s coach, Venkatesh Prasad said, “it was the test we needed after two one-sided games, Restricting Sri Lanka to 207 was a fantastic effort, our fielding and catching was really good.”

Group C: Sri Lanka v India, R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat
Sri Lanka: 207 off 48.3 overs (S. Serasinghe 38, H. Fernando 31, A. Mathews 52; V. Yomahesh 3-33)
India: 209 for 6 off 47.4 overs (R. Sharma 79, M. Tehlan 64; T. Perera 3-35)
Man of the Match: Rohit Sharma (India)

Filed February 11 2006