“We’ve been in many of these situations before,” said India’s captain Vijay Zol after the match. “we know what to do.” Thing is, so did their ACC U-19 Asia Cup semi-final opponents Sri Lanka. In a terrific game that went to the last over, India just edged out their opponents. and in doing so, reached their second consecutive ACC U-19 Asia Cup Final. Where they will again meet Pakistan.
India won the toss and elected to field on the ‘WACA’-wicket at the ICC Global Academy ground in Dubai. There was a little bit of grass on the wicket, it had rained overnight and there was a fresh breeze, all conditions which India wanted to exploit. Any expected seam movement didn’t materialize but there was plenty of bounce and carry and India’s new ball attack of Milind and Avesh Khan bowled well. Possibly a little too much focus on the back of a length deliveries meant they didn’t give the ball a chance to swing but they did get the early breakthrough, Sadeera falling in the third over to a mistimed drive. Sri Lanka’s captain Kusal Mendis came in and with Hashan Duminda, got Sri Lanka going. There were several plays and misses early on but they settled in and played the spinners well and put on 94, Mendis passing 50, and Sri Lanka their 100, in the 28th over. It looked like 250, par for this wicket at this level, was on.
Mendis was caught at silly mid-off for 52 off the foxy Kuldeep Yadav, and another wicket fell soon after but a positive stand for the fourth wicket by the enterprising Priyamal Perera and Duminda (57 off 60 deliveries) took Sri Lanka to striking distance of 250. Perera fell sweeping with the score on 163 in the 39th over and India’s spinners got their team back in the game.
Anuk Fernando and Binara Fernando struck some good blows but Sri Lanka, finishing on 223 for 8 was at least 20 less than what they would have felt comfortable with. All the Indian bowlers did well, Sarfaraz Khan bowling a mixture of leg-spin and off-breaks took 2 for 28 from 8 overs and Kuldeep finished with 3 for 49 from his full quota.
Sri Lanka are better in the field than with the bat, the best fielders in the competition by some way and in Binura Fernando may just have a real star in the making. Tall, broad-shouldered and thick-thighed, the left-arm paceman pinned Ankush Bains off an inside edge in the groin, forcing the right-hander's retirement, and made life difficult for everyone who faced him. Akhil Herwadkar was dropped by Roshan Anuruddha in his follow-through but India notched the ones and twos “our running was good, we took a lot of singles,” said Vijay Zol. Once the Sri Lanka opening bowlers were off, run-scoring became a lot easier, 13 coming off the Tyrone’s first over, the 12th of the innings. India 43 for 0 at that stage, Bains still looking a little grey in the dressing-room.
Herwadkar was caught behind for 27, flashing and Zol fell 8 runs later, trapped in front by Anuk Fernando. India 59 for 2 at this stage in the 17 th over. Sri Lanka started to impose themselves and in this arm-wrestle of a game were leaning towards victory. The required run-rate climbed up to over 6 an over, wickets falling steadily. They were 127 for 5 in the 34th over when Bains came back in. 97 wanted from 98 balls available.
With the ebullient Sarfaraz Khan, Bains set about re-establishing India’s chances. Sarfaraz tried to spread the field with angled strokes but chanced his arm once too often and after being dropped three balls earlier was caught by the same fielder at fine leg inside the circle from a top-edged sweep. Sri Lanka back in it. India 159 for 6 after 39 overs. Late afternoon birdsong from the young trees lining the ground, heralding the eventual winners. With 45 minutes to go it was still anyone's game.
Bains, the light fading now, lifted the darkness with a smack of a six over midwicket and India had the momentum. He made 50 and India passed 200 in the 46th over. The floodlights were switched on. A partnership of 58 with Kuldeep Yadav in 55 balls took India to the brink of victory but Sri Lanka came back into it. Bains, desperate to retain the strike, risked a second to mid-on but a fine throw to the ‘keeper beat his dive by at least six inches. It was that kind of game. Quality U-19 cricket all the way. Monu Singh then stroked his first ball for 4! India now needed 3 off 10 and weren’t going to lose from there. India just had that bit more game sense perhaps, Sri Lanka’s coaches Naweed Nawaz and Upul Chandana complimented their team on their efforts afterwards. Sri Lanka had played well, they just lack that extra wicket-taking dimension and power-hitter down the order. A fine side nonetheless, with some promising players.
India now meet Pakistan, who beat Afghanistan by two wicket in the day’s other semi-final, in the ACC U-19 Asia Cup Final. It’s always close between them – three games: one tie, a win by a run and another by two wickets to Pakistan. And Pakistan’s Sami Aslam has made 100s in all of them. “We have no special plan for him yet,” says Vijay Zol, “our games are always close and as a team we’re going to look to do our best and win overall.”
ACC U-19 Asia Cup 2014
SF2: India v Sri Lanka at ICC GCA 1
INDIA WON BY THREE WICKETS
India won the toss and elected to field
Sri Lanka: 223 for 8 off 50 overs (H.Dumindu 60, K.Mendis 52, P.Perera 34; K.Yadav 3-49)
India: 224 for 7 off 49.1 overs (R.Bhui 37, A.Bains 54)
Man of the Match: Ankush Bains (India)
Filed January 2nd, 2014