Another top batting track at Sharjah, the surface hard and with a mirror-like sheen first thing in the morning, set up yet another terrific ACC U-19 Asia Cup encounter between India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan joint-winners of the 2012 event were in the Final again today. Pakistan handed India the advantage in asking them to bat first, and after that India played an almost perfect game.
Bains was in cracking form, playing strokes of tremendous authority. He had one miscue: Zia-ul-Haq missing a caught-and-bowled chance off a mistimed pull running to his right but Bains was imperious. Left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar, Salman Saaed's replacement from the Sharjah Club End, had his first three deliveries powered to the boundary, the fielders either side of the wicket powerless.
After 6 overs India were 60 for 0, Bains on 41 off 22. The relatively subdued Herwadkar was out pulling straight to midwicket inside the circle soon after and India's runaway train pulled into a couple of stations. The next 10 overs, saw Pakistan getting back into the game. Bains fell to Karamat Ali's googly, not reading it at all, stumped for 47 off 34 (7 fours, 1 six). India were 111 for 2 at the drinks break, the powerful Sanju Samson with his captain Vijay Zol.
Zol survived a chance to backward point off Karamat in the 21st over when on 33. A crowd of several hundred building now, mostly Indian supporters. The pitch full of runs, minimal margin for error by the bowlers, the Indian batting aggressive and adroit: cheering frequent.
Pakistan's captain Sami Aslam has made three consecutive hundreds against India in the ACC U-19 Asia Cups of 2012 and 2014, his opposite number VIjay Zol, is a big occasion player too, and reached his 50 off 73 deliveries. India a run a ball 168 for 2 at this stage. Samson reached his 50 off 45 deliveries in the next over, with a powerful off-drive. There's a particular thump of bat on ball whenever he connects, the ball seemingly not far behind the speed of sound on several occasions.
Samson survived a couple of chances but hitting the ball as hard as he does he's going to get away with them more times than not at this level. Zol and Samson's 100 partnership came with a soaring Zol six over long-on, it had taken 110 deliveries. The 150-partnership came off 146, Pakistan had bowled 15 wides by the second drinks break. Karamat Ali, with 16 wickets in four games at less than 8 an over, including 4 for 28 in the group encounter with Pakistan at Dubai three days earlier, ended with figures of 10-0-78-1, albeit with two catches dropped off him. Pakistan's ground fielding hadn't been the best.
Zol went on to a serene 100, off 120 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes, aggression mixed with finesse, but was out next ball caught at long on. It had been a good hand, with shots all around the ground, and he ran his singles well. His celebrations on reaching the landmark, notwithstanding a crampy hamstring showed how much doing well for his team meant to him. Samson went on to a 100 too, off 87 balls, with 8 fours and 4 sixes. Samson fell straight after, caught at cover off a leading edge in the 45th over, the score on 286. 330 had looked on while Zol and Samson were in but 314 was a score India could defend. Test-, ODI-, T20i-, or ACC bowling attacks, the Sharjah wicket is full of runs.
As is Sami Aslam. His first run came from a typical back foot, head over the ball push to the off-side. Mohammad Umair was playing his first game for Pakistan U-19, was off the mark with a lofted drive over cover. Sami, having threatened, unleashed himself in Milind's second over, slamming two leg-side boundaries. Avesh Khan tested Mohammad Umair with some short deliveries and Umair doesn't seem to play them that well. He fell to another, miscuing a pull to be caught close in on the leg side.
The 8th over of the innings produced the first maiden of the day. Spin from the 11th over. India already around 10 runs ahead of Pakistan just through fielding alone. And there had been just one wide. A paddle-sweep off a solitary loose delivery by Kuldeep Yadav in the 16th over was the first Pakistan boundary in 81 deliveries. India were bowling well, Sami and Imam-ul-Haq (nephew of Inzamam) content to work the singles. Imam, beaten in the flight by Kuldeep, holed out to mid-on and at drinks in the 18th over Pakistan were 77 for 2, needing to score more than 7 an over to win.
Two more wickets fell for just 11 runs, Kuldeep and Gani foxing the batsmen with good old classical flight, dip and fizz. At 88 for 4 in the 20th over, Pakistan U-19s 20-match unbeaten run looked in quite some danger of ending. In Kamran Ghulam, Sami found a partner who was his equal in composure, correctness, and strokeplay. The 50-partnership came off 40 balls and batting was looking as easy as it had done earlier in the day by the young Indians. The crowd had swelled to a noisy 1500 at Sharjah stadium now.
One moment of brilliance at the start of the 34th over, an excellent return catch diving low to his left by Gani accounted for Sami. Out for 87, it was the first of his four innings against India U-19 which hasn't resulted in a century. After 40 overs Pakistan were 215 for 6; at the same stage of their innings India had been 260 for 3. Player of the Tournament Kamran Ghulam completed a valiant century at better than a run a ball but it wasn't enough in the absence of support from the others. There was no doubting the intensity of the contest, both teams passionate to win gave it their all but India outbowled, outfielded and outbatted Pakistan today. It resulted in a 40-run victory, and after tieing for the first ACC U-19 Asia Cup two years ago, India had both hands on the trophy today.
India are now ACC Emerging Teams and U-19 Asia Cup champions. Great preparation for all the Asian teams prior to the ICC U19 World Cup which starts next month in the UAE. The six Asian teams competing in that have been given every opportunity to do well in that. India of course, are the defending champions there too.
ACC U-19 Asia Cup 2014
Final: India v Pakistan at Sharjah Cricket Stadium
INDIA WON BY 40 RUNS
Pakistan won the toss and elected to field
India: 314 for 8 off 50 overs (A.Bains 47, V.Zol 100, S.Samson 100)
Pakistan: 274 for 9 off 50 overs (S.Aslam 87, K.Ghulam 102*; K.Yadav 3-72)
Man of the Match: Vijay Zol (India)
Bowler of Tournament: Karamat Ali (Pakistan)
Batsman of Tournament: Sami Aslam (Pakistan)
Player of Tournament: Kamran Ghulam (Pakistan)
Filed January 4th, 2014