After successive losses in the warmup games, the Indian under-19 side, however, went on to register a comfortable 40-run win over their Pakistani counterparts. Up next for the Indians will be the relatively easier task, as they take on Scotland in a Group A fixture. A win against Scotland will more or less assure India of progress to the knock-out stages. In any case, the win against Pakistan gives India a bit of breathing space, with their remaining group game against minnows Papua New Guinea, scheduled for Wednesday.
Against Pakistan, it was the all-round display of Mumbai’s 16-year old Sarfaraz Khan that helped India first set up and then defend their competitive total. Coming in at 94/4 Sarfaraz top-scored with 74 off 78 balls and put on a crucial 119-run stand for the fifth wicket with Sanju Samson, who made 68. Though it was off-spinner Deepak Hooda that benefitted the most from the Pakistani batsmen’s aggression in their chase of India’s 262 to end with a five-wicket haul, Sarfaraz pitched in with four catches and a wicket of his own.
The defending champions have come into the tournament also as the favourites, their defeat to the other strong contender, South Africa, in a warm-up game not withstanding. The side has the batsmen to put up or chase down big scores, with the likes of skipper Vijay Zol and Samson a part of a strong middle order. On the slow, low tracks of Dubai, off-spinner Hooda and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav ought to present the batsmen with a few problems.
One note of worry, though, would be the form of the new ball bowlers. Both against South Africa in the warm up game, and against Pakistan in their opener, the pacers struggled for penetration up front, going wicket-less. In fact, Pakistan was off to a comfortable start and were in fact favourites at one point in the chase, with their opening pair putting together 109 runs in 23.3 overs before the Indian spinners halted the momentum. Against South Africa, the spinners could not really defend 234, with opener Clyde Fortuin scoring a century.
Against Scotland, who ran up an easy six-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in their opener, there will be opportunities for several of the mis-firing players to raise their game.
Scotland, despite their reputation, have tailored their team to suit the conditions and it was their spinners that did the damage against Papua New Guinea. Left arm orthodox Chayank Gosain, in fact, opened the bowling and was the pick of Scotland’s bowlers, taking 3/17 in 8.3 overs. The next bowler in Scotland’s win was also a spinner — offie Ross McLean picked up three for 15.
It will not be an unfamiliar challenge when India take on Scotland, and as pre-tournament favourites, will be expected to seal qualification as early as on Monday.
South Africa U19 293/6 (Yaseen Valli 102; Nikhil Dutta 3/54) bt Canada U19 248/8 (Sudeepta Aruka 69; Y Valli 4/43).
England U19 230/9 (Jonathan Tattersal 95; Anuk Fernando 3/49) lost to continued…