By K.R. Nayar
Defending champions India, through a dominant performance, lifted the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup for the eighth time. In the final of the ninth edition of the tournament held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, India recorded an emphatic nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in a rain-affected match for their third consecutive title triumph.
Sri Lanka was restricted to 106 for 9 and India chased the DLS revised target of 102 run in 21.3 overs.
India’s left-arm spinner Vicky Ostwal, who produced a deadly spell of three wickets for 11 runs from his eight overs to restrict Sri Lanka, was adjudged the Player of the Final. Indian opener Harnoor Singh, who piled up 251 runs from the tournament, won the Player of the Tournament award.
In the final match, it was Singh’s opening partner Angkrish Raghuvanshi who sparkled to crack an unbeaten 56 off 67 balls with seven boundaries, while one-drop batsman Shaik Rasheed chipped in with an unbeaten 31 off 49 balls with two boundaries. Together they put on an unbeaten 96 runs partnership in 104 balls.
Earlier, Sri Lanka had elected to bat after winning the toss. Their openers Chamidu Wickramasinghe and Shevon Daniel found runs hard to come as the Indian bowlers bowled tightly right from the start. Medium pacers Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Ravi Kumar bowled a good length and from the first four overs Sri Lanka could score only four runs. Sri Lanka lost the wicket of Wickramasinghe for three when Rajangad Bawa had him caught off Ravi Kumar.
The first boundary of the match came in the 15th over from Rajapaksa off Bawa. Sri Lanka lost their third wicket in the 16th over when off spinner Kaushal Tambe trapped Bandara leg before for 9. Pawan Pathiraja and Rajapaksa tried hard to score but Bawa and Tambe gave away just one run from their respective overs. Ostwal, who was introduced in the 19th over, too bowled tight while Tambe picked his second wicket by clean bowling Pathiraja for 4.
Half the Sri Lankan side was back in the pavilion for 47 when Shaik Rasheed at point pulled off a diving catch to dismiss Rajapaksa off Ostwal for 14. Ostwal then went on remove Sri Lankan skipper Danuda Wellalage caught by Bawa for 9 and also trapped Ranuda Somarathne leg before for 7.
At the score 74 for 7 in 33 overs, rain stopped play with Raveen De Silva and Yasiru Rodrigo at the crease. The Sri Lankan innings was reduced to 38 overs on resumption. De Silva and Rodrigo added 25 runs, the biggest partnership of the innings, before De Silva on 15 got run out off a direct throw from Shaik Rasheed. Matheesh Pathirana and Rodrigo took Sri Lanka past the 100 run mark in the last over of the innings. They put on 24 runs off 20 deliveries before Pathirana, going for a big hit, got caught by Angkrish Raghuvanshi off Hanargekar at deep mid-wicket for 14 off the last ball of the innings. Sri Lanka posted 106 for 9 in their 38 overs.
Indian openers Raghuvanshi and Harnoor Singh began cautiously chasing the D/L revised target of 102 runs in 38 overs. Off spinner Treveen Mathew, who was the hero of their win over Pakistan in the semifinal, along with left-arm medium pacer Rodrigo opened the bowling. India could muster only eight runs in the first four overs. With the first ball of the fifth over, Rodrigo trapped Singh leg before for 5.
Shaik Rasheed, who ensured India a victory over Bangladesh in the semifinal with an unbeaten knock of 90, joined Raghuvanshi. The pair picked the gaps despite the Sri Lankans bowling tightly. India went past the 50 run mark in the 12th over.
Raghuvanshi took boundaries off Wickramasinghe and Sri Lankan skipper Dunith Wellalage, while Rasheed hit a boundary off Wellalage to get on top of the bowling. They brought down the required run rate to under two runs per over. Although Sri Lanka’s strike bowler Pathirana bowled quick, he wavered in length giving away eight wides from his 3.3 overs.
By the 18th over, the Indian batsmen took full control reaching 83 for 1 with the pair putting on 75 runs. Raghuvanshi reached his half century in 64 balls when India needed another four more runs to win. Rasheed scored an unbeaten 31 from 49 balls and together they ensured that India emerge champions of the ninth edition of the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup.
Indian skipper Yash Dhull, who always wanted his team to play every match in a positive frame of mind, said: “We have justified our approach of playing positive cricket and won this tournament. It was a brilliant bowling performance from our team. Everyone chipped in giving nothing away to the Sri Lankans. As far as batting goes, Angkrish Raghuvanshi and Shaik Rasheed batted with great responsibility to ensure our victory. We will carry this form into the World Cup too.”
Player of the final, Vicky Ostwal, said: “It was my dream to do well in India’s victory and I am thrilled to have realized it in a final. I got those wickets sticking to the basics and bowling according to our team’s plan. I want to keep performing consistently and keep winning many more matches for India and do well in the World Cup too.”
Player of the Tournament Harnoor Singh attributed his consistency to his concentration. “I have a very simple approach and that is to watch the ball and stay on till the end. This approach has helped me a lot and hence I have been able to produce good scores. I feel thrilled at being named Player of a Tournament in such a tournament in which India has emerged the champions.”
Sri Lankan skipper Dunith Wallalage sportingly congratulated India for their fine show in the final. “I am proud of my team at having reached the final. We produced some good cricket but I congratulate India for their good show in the final. We need to improve in certain areas especially our batting. We will work hard on these and produce a good show in the World Cup.”
The prize distribution ceremony was attended by Asian Cricket Council’s Thusith Perera, Convenor, GM – Finance & Operations, Sultan Rana, Convenor – Events and Development Manager and Andrew Russell, Emirates Cricket Board’s National Development Manager.
FINAL: INDIA v SRI LANKA at Dubai International Stadium
INDIA WON BY NINE WICKETS (D/L Method)
Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat
Sri Lanka: 106 for 9 off 38 overs (V.Ostwal 3-11)
India: 104 for 1 off 21.3 overs (A.Raghuvanshi 56*)
Man of the Final: Vicky Ostwal (India)
Player of the Tournament: Harnoor Singh (India)