Zol, Samson help India claim Asia Cup title
India Under-19 314 for 8 (Zol 100, Samson 100) beat Pakistan Under-19 274 for 9 (Ghulam 102, Aslam 87*) by 40 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
India Under-19 took home yet another piece of silverware, this time claiming the Asia Cup by beating arch-rivals Pakistan Under-19 by 40 runs in a high-scoring final in Sharjah. Centuries by Vijay Zol and Sanju Samson powered India to 314 and Pakistan, in their reply, failed to keep with the asking rate. Late-hitting by Kamran Ghulam helped him score a century, but he kept running out of partners. He was stranded on 102 as Pakistan could only muster 274.
The chase didn't match the thrills of the last occasion these teams met in a tournament final though, coincidentally in the Asia Cup of 2012. In Kuala Lumpur, the scores were tied on 282 and the trophy was shared.
Put into bat, India were given a brisk start by their openers Ankush Bains and Akhil Herwadkar. They had added 60 before Herwadkar pulled Zia-ul-Haq straight to midwicket. Bains fell three short of his fifty when he gave the legspinner Karamat Ali the charge and was stumped.
The wicket brought Zol and Samson together and their stand of 180, made in less than 30 overs, defined the game. Zol was lucky to be let off on 33 when Salman Saeed put down a sitter at point. Samson scored at more than a run-a-ball, hitting two sixes early in his innings, over deep midwicket and deep extra cover. Zol, the Maharashtra Ranji batsman, reached his fifty, off 73 balls, with a single to midwicket, while Samson reached his half-century the following over with a boundary down to long-off.
Samson too was handed a reprieve, on 59, when he looked to launch Karamat over long-on where Zafar Gohar failed to catch the skier and conceded a boundary. To make matters worse for Karamat, he conceded 18 in his following over, giving away two fours and a six. Zol was the first to reach his century, getting there with a single to midwicket. He fell the following over for 100, mistiming Karamat over mid-on where Gohar took the catch.
Samson then smashed two consecutive sixes immediately after his captain's departure, though he was lucky with the second one as Gohar stepped over the rope at long-on after taking the catch. Samson reached his century in the 43rd over, off just 86 balls with eight fours and four sixes. He too fell for an exact 100, top-edging Gohar to extra cover. India lost wickets steadily but managed to push the score to an imposing 314.
The Pakistan openers began briskly, adding 34 before Mohammad Umair was caught and bowled by the seamer Chama Milind. What hurt Pakistan was the lack of boundaries following that wicket, and the asking rate had already climbed over seven after 15 overs. The pressure got to Pakistan as they lost three quick wickets to the spinners, for 11 runs, as they slid to 88 for 4.
Sami Aslam, who scored 134 in the Kuala Lumpur match, took the fight to India with an attacking fifty and added 93 with Ghulam. The pair were aggressive against the spinners and their stand was the most productive, at a rate of 6.48. However, a low return catch by the offspinner Aamir Gani sent back Aslam for 87.
The required rate had soared over 10 and the lower order perished trying to look for boundaries. Ghulam continued to fight it out, improvising well and even putting away yorker length balls to the boundary. But Pakistan were left needing an improbable 62 off the last four overs and Ghulam's century was the only thing to look forward to. He got there in the final over and with the game all but lost, didn't celebrate.