By K.R. Nayar

India, who are the defending champions of the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup, outplayed ICC Under-19 World Cup champions Bangladesh at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium while Sri Lanka produced a spirited show to stop Pakistan at the ICC Academy Ground. For India, it was an easy semifinal as they recorded a 103-runs victory but Sri Lanka had to fight hard defending a small total to pull off an exciting 22-runs victory.

The architect of India’s victory was Shaik Rashid who cracked an unbeaten 90 off 108 balls with three boundaries and a six. He steered India to an impressive total of 243 for 8 in 50 overs. India's bowlers struck repeatedly refusing Group B table-toppers Bangladesh to get back into the game and restrict them to 140 in 38.2 overs. India had finished second in Group A after losing to Group A table-toppers Pakistan.  Incidentally, the two teams that have reached the final are those who finished second in their respective groups. Sri Lanka had finished second from Group B owing to a lesser run rate than Bangladesh.

The Sri Lanka-Pakistan semifinal was a keenly fought battle. Though Sri Lanka was bowled out for 147 in 44.5 overs, they fought back to restrict Pakistan to 125 in 49.3 overs. The hero of their triumph was off-spinner Treveen Mathew who bagged 4 for 14 from his 10 overs. He was well backed by his skipper Dunith Wellalage with three wickets for 31.

The final will be held on December 31 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

India vs Bangladesh at Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Dominant India stop Bangladesh

Bangladesh began strongly after winning the toss and electing to field.  They picked the prize wicket of consistent Harnoor Singh in the eighth over. Medium-pacer Tanzim Hasan had Singh caught behind by wicketkeeper Md Fahim for 15 at the score of 23. Shaik Rasheed joined opener Angkrish Raghuvansh and added 26 runs for the second wicket before Fahim took his second catch to dismiss Raghuvansh for 16 off left-arm spinner Naimur Rohman Noyon.

Nishant Sindhu and Rasheed took the score to 62 when off-spinner Meherob Hasan had Sindhu caught by Mahfijul Islam for 5.  Indian skipper Yash Dhull and Rashid, keeping their heads down, and finding the gaps, steered India past the 100 run mark in the 29th over. They put on 41 runs in 45 balls for the fourth wicket before Dhull got out to off-spinner Ariful Islam, caught by Aich Mollah, for 26.

Rajangad Bawa, who has scored consistently in this tournament, joined Rasheed. Together they swelled the total, and Rasheed reached his half-century in 76 balls. At the score of 149, Bangladesh skipper and left-arm spinner Rakibul Hasan had Bawa caught by Fahim for 23. It was Fahim’s third catch and the pair had put on 46 runs for the fifth wicket.

Fahim then went on to stump Kaushal Tambe off Hasan for 3 and then ran out Indian wicketkeeper Aaradhya Yadav for 8. Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Rashid added 17 runs before Hasan picked his third wicket clean bowling Hangargekar for 16. Vicky Ostwal gave excellent support to Rashid, and India went past the 200-run mark in the 46th over. Rashid remained unconquered on 90 by hitting Ashiqur Zaman’s fifth ball of the last over for a six and helped India post 243 for 8 in 50 overs. Ostwal remained unbeaten with a quick 28 off 18 balls with three boundaries.

Bangladesh openers put on 31 runs in 5.1 overs before left-arm medium-pacer Ravi Kumar trapped Tahibul Islam leg before for 3. In walked the consistent Prantik Nawrose Nabil with scores of 127 against Nepal and 45 against Sri Lanka. Opener Mahiful Islam and Nawrose could add only nine more runs when medium pacer Rajangad Bawa had Islam caught by Angkrish Raghuvanshi for 26. Ravi Kumar took the valuable wicket of Nawrose by trapping him leg before for 12.

Bawa struck again in the 11th over to take the wicket of Aich Mollah by having him caught by Harnoor Singh for a duck. In the 12th over Hangargekar removed hard-hitting Md Fahim, caught by Raghuvanshi for 5. India began to take a firm grip with Bangladesh struggling at 59 for 5 in 11.5 overs. Nine runs later, Hangargekar had Meherob Hasan too caught by Singh for 7.

Ariful Islam and Ashiqur Zaman pushed the score to 87 before left-arm spinner Vicky Ostwal had Zaman caught behind by wicketkeeper Aaradhya Yadav for 15. Ostwal went on to also dismiss Naimur Rohman for 6 by having him caught by Shaik Rasheed. Off-spinner Kaushal Tambe did not let the Bangladesh skipper stay on for long by having him stumped by wicketkeeper Aaradhya Yadav for 16. Ariful Islam, who put on a strong challenge to score 42 off 77 balls, also got stumped by wicketkeeper Aaradhya Yadav off left-arm spinner Nishant Sindhu to book India’s place in the final.

Shaik Rashid, who was adjudged Player of the Match for his stubborn unbeaten knock of 90, said: “I am thrilled at having played such a knock in a crucial match. I am not disappointed at not getting my century. For me, it was important to give my team a good total and I achieved it.”

Indian skipper Yash Dhull stressed that his team's positive approach was behind this win too. “We have been telling each other to play positive cricket and that is showing in every performance. Everyone is contributing to the victory and that is what has seen us reach the final. We want to not only win the Asia Cup but go on to win the World Cup too.”

Bangladesh skipper Rakibul Hasan said his team could have batted better to win the match. “It was a good contest but we faltered in certain stages of the game. We will learn from the mistakes of this contest and go stronger into the World Cup and defend our title there.”

SF2: Bangladesh v India at Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Bangladesh won the toss and elected to field
India: 243 for 8 off 50 overs (S.Rasheed 90*; R.Hasan 3-41)
Bangladesh: 140 all out off 38.2 overs
Man of the Match: Shaik Rasheed (India)

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka at the ICC Academy

Sri Lanka bowlers pull off exciting win over Pakistan

Sri Lanka’s win over Pakistan was a brilliant exhibition of determination to defend a moderate total. They won the toss and elected to bat but could not post a big total. They lost an early wicket when Pakistan medium pacer Ahmad Khan clean bowled opener Shevon Daniel with the fourth ball of the second over.

One drop Anjala Bandara joined in-form Chamidu Wickramasinghe, who had scored 54 runs against Kuwait and 111 against Nepal. Left-handed Wickramasinghe and Bandara began by picking singles and doubles and took the score to 30 when Ahmad Khan struck again. Bandara got out caught behind by wicketkeeper Haseebullah Khan at unlucky 13. At the same score, medium pacer Awais Ali dimissed Wickramasinghe who was batting fluently, caught by Mohammad Irfan Khan.

In walked another Sri Lanka’s in-form batsman Sadisha Rajapaksa, who had cracked 131 against Nepal. Pawan Pathiraja and Rajapaksa began to repair the damage caused by the fall of quick wickets but could add only 19 runs for the fourth wicket. Medium pacer Zeeshan Zameer, who had produced a five-wicket spell against India, had Rajapaksa caught behind for 11.

Four wickets down for 49 in 15.2 overs, Sri Lanka needed a stubborn partnership. But the Pakistan pacers bowled tightly and even generated excellent bounce off the wicket. Ranuda Somarathne and Pathiraja had to duck and sway to the pace of the bowlers before Awais Ali picked his second wicket to have Somarathne caught behind for 8.

Pathiraja became Zameer’s second victim getting caught by Abdul Wahid for 11. When Raveen De Silva too fell for a duck to Zameer caught by Mohammad Irfan Khan, Sri Lanka slipped to 65 for 7 in 21.1 overs.  Sri Lankan skipper Dunith Wellalge lasted only four balls to score two runs before falling as Zameer’s fourth victim getting caught by Abdul Bangalzai.

Yasiru Rodrigo and Matheesha Pathirana resisted the Pakistan attack and steered Sri Lanka total past the 100 run mark in the 30th over. Pathirana kept the scoreboard moving with well-placed shots. Left-arm Maaz Ahmad Sadaqat ended the 47 runs partnership for the ninth wicket by trapping Pathirana leg before for 31. Pathirana’s knock came off 30 balls with five boundaries.

The last wicket pair of Rodrigo and Treveen Mathew stayed on by playing out 53 balls and put on 30 runs before off spinner clean bowled Mathew for 12. Rodrigues remained unbeaten through a patient unbeaten 31 off 81 balls without scoring any boundaries to ensure a total of 147. Zameer stood out with fine spell of 4 for 32 from his 10 overs

Chasing the moderate total and a run rate of 3.27, Pakistan lost opener Maaz Ahmad Sadaqat for a duck, caught by Ranuda Somarathne to off spinner Treveen Mathew in  the fourth ball of the second over. Mathew then clean bowled opener Abdul Wahid for 1 with the first ball of his third over, and with the next ball also clean bowled Haseebullah Khan. Pakistan skipper Qasim Akram averted the hat-trick from Mathew, who had bowled a wicket-maiden.

Muhammad Shehzad, who was the hero of Pakistan’s win over India with 81 runs, and skipper Akram, who had cracked a 50 against the UAE in the previous match, batted with caution. Mathew bowled his third maiden over in the eighth over. So tight was the Sri Lankan bowling with their skipper Dunith Wellalage too bowling tightly, Pakistan could score only 15 runs in the first 11 overs.

Shehzad and Akram kept the scoreboard moving with singles and doubles and added 32 runs in 82 balls before leg spinner Raveen De Silva had Akram caught by Wickramasinghe for 19 runs. He had stayed at the wicket for 49 balls to take the score to 42 in 18.6 overs. Four wickets down for 42 in 18.6 overs, Iran Khan and Shehzad pushed the score slowly against the tight bowling from the Sri Lankans. Pakistan inched past the 50 run mark in the 22nd over.

Shevon Daniel removed the danger man Shehzad by clean bowling him for 30. He had withstood the attack for 75 balls. With half the side back in pavilion for 62 at the half way mark, Sri Lanka went for the kill putting pressure on Mohammad Irfan Khan and Ahmed Khan. Irfan Khan succumbed to it falling leg before to Wellalage for 13.

Ahmed Khan and Rizwan Mehmood Syed played 68 balls to produce 25 more runs before Mathew had Syed caught and bowled for 6. All eyes were on Ahmed Khan, who had lifted Pakistan to victory over India with an unbeaten 29. He carried Pakistan past the 100 run mark in the 44th over.

Pakistan needed 45 runs in the last six overs with Ahmed Khan trying hard to pull his team towards the target with Arham Nawab.  The fighting eighth wicket partnership of 24 runs in 36 balls ended when Wellalage trapped Ahmed Khan leg before for 36. Ahmed Khan's dismissal ended Pakistan’s hopes too. Pathirana had Zeeshan Zameer caught by Mathew for 2 while Wellalage had Awais Ali caught by Pathirana at mid-off for 2 to wrap up the Pakistan innings.

Player of the match Treveen Mathew is proud that he produced a fine spell in the semifinal. “I feel proud that I could produce such a tight spell. It was possible as my teammates supported me all the way encouraging to bowl better. I bowled a tight length and that resulted in getting those wickets. My mind was telling me all the time that I should do well and help Sri Lanka lift the Asia Cup this time.”

Sri Lankan skipper Dunith Wellalage attributed his team's success to good preparation. “We have reached the final purely due to our good preparation and hard work. Everyone has contributed to the success. It was a good show by all our bowlers. We put tremendous pressure bowling the right length and won the match.”

Pakistan skipper Qasim Akram said his team will learn from this defeat. “We did fight but there were certain areas in which we failed. Although we restricted Sri Lanka, our batsmen should have taken the team to the target. We will learn from this defeat and put up a strong show in the coming World Cup.”

SF1: Pakistan v Sri Lanka at ICC Academy 1
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat
Sri Lanka: 147 all out off 44.5 overs (SZ.Zameer 4-32)
Pakistan: 125 all out off 49.3 overs (T.Mathew 4-14, D.Nethmika 3-31)
Man of the Match: Traveen Mathew (Sri Lanka)


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Filed December 30th, 2021