|Old sparring partners Vijay Zol and Samiu Aslam with Match Referee Aminul Islam|
The senior sides last played each other in the UAE in April 2006, it was the India and Pakistan U-19s this time at another fine stadium who met. The last time they played in the ACC U-19 Asia Cup in 2012 in Malaysia, after 200 overs only 1 run separated the sides, and they tied that epic final. Sami Aslam and Vijay Zol played in that game too, and here, on an excellent batting track at Dubai, Pakistan just got past India thanks to a fine innings from Sami Aslam with his third consecutive century against India at this level.
India won the toss and batted and got off to a flier, passing 50 midway through the eighth over thanks to some dynamic batting from Ankush Bains and Akhil Herwadkar. Akhil played the shot of the day, and there were plenty of contenders through the course of the match, a straight-drive, not much more than a push that raced off the bat through timing alone to the sightscreen off Salman Saeed.
|Ankush Bains faces Salman Saeed|
It took a fine catch by Imam-ul-Haq at backward square leg to dismiss the ebullient Herwadkar and with that, change the course of the match. As much as Sami decided the game, Pakistan's spinners played a big part influencing proceedings. From scoring at seven an over, India's runs dried up so that after 25 overs, they were 105 for 2. Leg-spinner Karamat Ali was particularly effective, varying his pace, tossing some up and skidding some through and took four prime wickets today.
The other slow men Zafar Gohar and Kamran Ghulam bowled well too, Kamran having the uncanny ability to turn the ball at pace and it was his faster ball, pitching on middle and taking off which accounted for the dangerous Samson (38 off 54 balls, two 4s and one 6). India took and manufactured opportunities for runs, Ricky Bhui making a fine 64 off 66 balls (three 4s, two 6s) but couldn't totally dominate or impose themselves on the match. Pakistan's fielders were in good positions and India's batsmen weren't able to disrupt the fielding side's Plan A.
Pakistan kept plugging away and India, in finishing on 250 for 7 were probably 20 runs short.
India had a pacey opening from Avesh Khan, Shayan taking guard a foot outside the crease to counteract some swing but anything short on this easy-paced pitch was punished. As was anything pitched up. Sami swung a middle-stump half volley from Milind for 6 over midwicket early on which showed how well he was seeing the ball and though India's bowlers struck some early blows, having Shayan and Imam-ul-Haq out inside 15 overs, Pakistan were rarely troubled. Some inside-edges and scrambled runs on another day could have gone the other way but Pakistan were never really under any pressure and the 80m plus boundaries at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium looked full of untenanted areas in which to place the ball.
Sami Aslam's first 50 took 56 balls, his second 50 took 54 and Pakistan were 165 for 3 in the 34th over when he reached his century. If there's one relative weakness to Sami's batting its his judging of a run, he had almost sold two of his partners up the river earlier before being undone himself by a direct hit from Deepak Hooda at cover, when running to the bowler's end. His 108 came off 119 deliveries with eleven 4s and a six. Pakistan were 181 for 4 in the 37th over, India still in with a chance.
A cloud covered the dipping sun now, but India saw a chink of light and when Kuldeep Yadav had Saud Shakeel caught behind Pakistan were 190 for 5 with 11 overs to go. Yadav from over the wicket, pitching on leg and middle on a full-length became a difficult proposition, and backed up by his fielders dried up the runs from the Sports City End.
The DICS 'Ring of Fire' came on at the start of the 43rd over, and Pakistan's prospects brightened with boundaries off the next two balls by Kamran Ghulam. India just let things slip at this stage, Kuldeep and Avesh not bowling their best overs and with five overs to go, Pakistan needed 25 to win.
The first ball of Kuldeep's last over swung things back his team's way, Saifullah Khan bowled round his legs sweeping. Two runs and a wicket in the over, Pakistan needed 19 off 18 now, four wickets in hand. These ACC games between India and Pakistan, wherever their played, inevitably close. Seven balls to go, Kamran Ghulam and Zafar Gohar go for a second to long -on and Samson's throw beats Kamran's dive and he goes for 55!
Six balls left, six wanted. That became five off six, at the cost of another wicket to a run-out by Sanju Samson. Pakistan 245 for 7 now. The next ball was short, on leg, Gohar goes down on one knee to swat behind square for a boundary. And then hammers a full-toss through the off-side.
Pakistan U-19's winning-streak continues, just. 19 matches on the trot now.
ACC U-19 Asia Cup 2014
Group A: India v Pakistan at Dubai International Stadium
PAKISTAN WON BY TWO WICKETS
India won the toss and chose to bat
India: 250 for 7 off 50 overs (A.Herwadkar 31, A.Bains 41, S.Samson 38, R.Bhui 64; K.Ali 4-28)
Pakistan: 253 for 8 off 49.3 overs (S.Aslam 108, H.Raza 30, K.Ghulam 55)
Man of the Match: Sami Aslam (Pakistan)
Filed December 31st, 2013