Under-23 teams from India and Pakistan set the clash of the titans in the ACC Emerging Teams Cup final in Singapore on Friday.
At the Kallang grounds, Group ‘A’ winners India cruised to a 46-run victory over surprising Group ‘B’ runners-up United Arab Emirates by 46 runs, while Pakistan narrowly edged Sri Lanka U-23 by one wicket after their skipper Hammad Azam held his nerve till the end with an important half century.
Sri Lanka owed much to their openers Udara Jayasundera and Shehan Jayasuriya for building a modest total of 232-7 in 50 overs. Sri Lanka had their one foot in the title showdown when they reduced Pakistan to 200-9 in 41.5 overs but Azam had other things in his mind.
The skipper hammered 66 runs from 69 balls and sealed the match with a six off Lahiru Jayaratne as Pakistan finished at 232-9 in 48.5 overs. Azam’s match-winning knock included three sixes and two boundaries.
Usman Salahuddin was the next best scorer for Pakistan with 31 runs, while Mohammad Nawaz (26), Bilawal Bhatti (25) and Azeem Ghumman (22) also chipped in some valuable runs. Amila Aponso took 3-31 from 10 overs for Sri Lanka with Charith Jayampathi (2-48), Jayaratne (1-57) and Lahiru Madushanka (1-16) sharing four wickets between them.
Jayasundera and Jayasuriya gave Sri Lanka a dream start with 81-run opening wicket stand but Pakistan bowlers bowled in a tight line to in a difficult batting conditions to tighten the grip with the ball.
Jayasundera missed out of a century making 94 runs from 120 balls that included nine boundaries and a six, while Jayasuriya hit five boundaries in his 46-ball 33.
India, meanwhile, had a disastrous start after losing Unmukt Chand for a duck in the first over but a solid 94-run stand between Lokesh Rahul and Manprit Juneja lifted the total to 208 all out in 49.5 overs.
Manprit remained cool and calm as his 121-ball 76 included just one six and Rahul hit one boundary and a six in his 75-ball 43. Ashok Menaria (30) and Ankit Bawne (23) were other notable contributors for the Indians.
Nasir Aziz picked up five wickets for UAE, who in reply were bundled out for 162 in 48.3 overs after Akshar Patel’s three quick wickets torn them apart.
After losing opener Amjad Khan early, Shaiman Anwar and Swapnil Patil kept UAE in the match with an 89-run partnership but Patel dealt them massive blow when he got rid off Anwar for 44 and more dangerous Saqib Ali for a duck in a space of three balls.
Patel then returned in his next over to dismiss Patil for 41 as UAE innings crumbled after that.Anwar – who had hit two centuries in the tournament – struck four boundaries and one six in his 80-ball innings and Swapnil hit two fours and a six facing 58 deliveries.
Patel returned with 4-29 from 8.3 overs.Sandeep Sharma and Baba Aparajith also snapped up two wickets apiece.