Scoring a century is always a special feat,and for India skipper Vijay Zol (100) and Sanju Samson (100),it would have meant even more,considering the opponent,the venue and most importantly,the stage of the tournament. The twin hundreds ensured that the Indian under-19 side beat Pakistan by a comprehensive 40-run margin in the final to claim the Asia Cup. It was a turnaround from the last Asia Cup final which featured the same sides,and which ended in a tie.
Pakistan in Sharjah has represented a tough proposition for even the seniors,but the batting strength of the side,underscored by the contrasting hundreds of Zol and Samson,saw the Indian colts through. While Zol’s knock came off 120 balls laced with seven fours and two sixes,Samson took just 87 deliveries for his ton that included eight boundaries and four sixes,to help India reach 314 for eight in their allotted 50 overs. In reply,Pakistan made 274 for nine,despite a fighting ton from Kamran Ghulam (102* off 89 balls).
Put in to bat,India got off to a solid start with openers Ankush Bains (47) and Akhil Herwadkar (12) putting on 65 runs in 6.4 overs,at more than 10 runs an over.
However,it was only when Zol and Samson joined hands at 85/2 that India really got the show going. The two shared a massive 180-run partnership for the third wicket. Karamat finally broke the partnership when he saw off Zol,who mistimed a shot and lofted it to Zafar Gohar at mid-on.
But Samson kept going,hitting Karamat for two consecutive sixes right away. Samson too fell a couple of overs later,and though Pakistan struck a few blows late,India managed to go past the 300-mark.For Pakistan,Zafar Gohar (2/52),Zia-ul-Haq (2/56) were the pick.
Chasing a massive target,Pakistan faltered from the very beginning,losing Mohammad Umair (17),Imam-ul-Haq (18),Hasan Raza (1) and Saifullah Khan (3) cheaply,to be reeling at 88 for four. But opener Sami Aslam played a sensible knock and held on to his ground even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end. Leading from the front,skipper Aslam finally found an able support in Kamran Ghulam and the two put on a 93-run stand together for the fifth wicket to keep Pakistan’s chances alive. Aamir Gani managed to break the dangerous partnership by dismissing Aslam for a well-made 87 off 96 balls,studded with 10 boundaries. Ghulam,however,continued to play aggressively,scoring at better than a run-a-ball.
But unfortunately there was no support and it was a matter of time before Pakistan ran out of their allotted 50 overs,falling short by a huge margin. Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav returned the most wickets (3/72),while Deepak Hooda (2/37),Gani (2/39) and Chama Milind (2/44) were a little less expensive picking up two wickets each.
Brief scores: India U19 314/8 in 50 overs (Vijay Zol 100,Sanju Samson 100; Zia-ul-Haq 2/56,Zafar Gohar 2/52) beat Pakistan U19 274/9 in 50 overs (Sami Aslam 87,Kamran Ghulam 102*; Aamir Gani 2/39,Kuldeep Yadav 3/72)
Best of Express