Dubai: Defending champions India will meet Sri Lanka in the final of the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.
In the semi-finals held on Thursday, the Men in Blue outplayed ICC Under-19 World Cup champions Bangladesh by 103 runs at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, while Sri Lanka produced a spirited show to stop Pakistan by 22 runs in an exciting game at the ICC Academy Ground.
The architect of India’s victory was Shaik Rasheed, who cracked an unbeaten 90 off 108 balls with three boundaries and a six. He steered India to an impressive total of 243 for 8 in 50 overs. India’s bowlers struck repeatedly to restrict Group B table-toppers Bangladesh to 140 in 38.2 overs. Incidentally, both the finalists finished second in their respective groups.
The Sri Lanka-Pakistan semi-final was a keenly fought battle. Though Sri Lanka were bowled out for 147 in 44.5 overs, the Islanders fought back to restrict Pakistan to 125 in 49.3 overs. The hero of their triumph was off-spinner Treveen Mathew, who bagged 4 for 14 from his 10 overs. He was well backed by his skipper Dunith Wellalage with three wickets for 31.
Bangladesh, after electing to field first, picked the prize wicket of consistent Harnoor Singh. Shaik Rasheed and skipper Yash Dhull steered India past the 100-run mark and put on 41 runs for the fourth wicket. Despite losing wickets at the other end, Rasheed kept the scoreboard moving and found an able ally in Vicky Ostwal to take India past the 200-run mark. Rasheed remained unconquered on 90, while Ostwal remained unbeaten with a quickfire 28.
Bangladesh openers put on 31 runs in 5.1 overs before left-arm medium-pacer Ravi Kumar trapped Tahibul Islam. From there, Bangladesh innings went downhill and only Ariful Islam put on a strong challenge to score 42.
Rasheed, who was adjudged Player of the Match, said: “I am thrilled at having played such a knock in a crucial match. I am not disappointed at not getting my century. For me, it was important to give my team a good total and I achieved it.”
Indian skipper Dhull stressed that his team’s positive approach was behind this win too. “We have been telling each other to play positive cricket and that is showing in every performance. Everyone is contributing to the victory and that is what has seen us reach the final. We want to not only win the Asia Cup but go on to win the World Cup too.”
Bangladesh skipper Rakibul Hasan said his team could have batted better to win the match. “It was a good contest but we faltered in certain stages of the game. We will learn from the mistakes and get stronger for our World Cup defence.”
In the other semi-final at the ICC Academy, a 47-run ninth wicket partnership between Yasiru Rodrigo and Matheesha Pathirana guided Sri Lanka to 147 in 44.5 overs. The last wicket pair of Rodrigo and Treveen Mathew also put on 30 with Rodrigo staying unbeaten on 31, pacer Zeeshan Zameer stood out with 4 for 32.
In reply, Pakistan lost three quick wickets and Muhammad Shehzad, who was the hero of Pakistan’s win over India with 81 runs, and skipper Qasim Akram batted with caution. But the exit of Akram, which was followed by Shehzad pushed Pakistan in deep trouble at 62-5.
With half the side back in pavilion, Sri Lanka went for the kill putting pressure on Mohammad Irfan Khan and Ahmad Khan. Irfan Khan succumbed to it falling leg before to Wellalage for 13.
Ahmed Khan added 25 with Rizwan Mehmood Syed and 24 with Arham Nawab, but Pakistan’s hopes faded when Sri Lankan skipper Dunith Wellalage trapped Ahmed Khan leg before for 36.
Player of the match Treveen Mathew, who claimed four wickets, said: “I feel proud that I could produce such a tight spell. My mind was telling me all the time that I should do well and help Sri Lanka lift the Asia Cup this time.”
Sri Lankan skipper Dunith Wellalage attributed his team’s success to good preparation. “We have reached the final purely due to our good preparation and hard work. It was a good show by all our bowlers and put tremendous pressure by bowling the right length and won the match.”
Pakistan skipper Qasim Akram said his team will learn from this defeat. “We did fight but there were certain areas in which we failed. We will learn from this defeat and put up a strong show in the coming World Cup.”
India beat Bangladesh by 103 runs. India 243 for 8 in 50 overs (Shaik Rasheed 90 not out, Yash Dull 26, Vicky Ostwal 28; Rakibul Hasan 3-41) Bangladesh 140 in 38.2 overs (Mahfijul Islam 26, Ariful Islam 42, Rajvardhan Hangargekar 2-36, Ravi Kumar 2-22, Raj Bawa 2-26, Vicky Ostwal 2-25). Man of the Match: Shaik Rasheed (India).
Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 22 runs. Sri Lanka 147 in 44.5 overs (Yasiru Rodrigo 31, Matheesha Pathirana 31, Zeeshan Zameer 4-32, Ahmed Khan 2-26, Awais Ali 2-27) Pakistan 125 in 49.3 overs (Muhammad Shehzad 30, Ahmed Khan 36, Treveen Mathew 4-14, Dunith Wellalage 3-31). Man of the Match: Traveen Mathew (Sri Lanka).