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Murugan Abishek was lone hal-century maker for India in the Asia Cup Under-19 semifinal against Bangladesh in Dubai on Friday. Image Credit: Source: ACC

Dubai: Indian Under-19 team coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar feels that there is a lot of work remaining and the losses in the Asia Cup have given the team the chance to reflect and find ways to improve their game.

India, the Under-19 World Cup champions, begin their defence in a month’s time in South Africa, but their plans suffered a setback after the loss in the semi-finals against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup Under-19 in Dubai on Friday. It is the second loss for the Asian giants after an eight-wicket defeat against Pakistan in the opener.

India, who have only defeated Afghanistan and Japan in this tournament, could not produce the required high scores on the ICC Academy pitches against both Bangladesh and Pakistan. But Kanitkar looks at the positives in the reversals the team encountered ahead of the World Cup.

Not an ideal start

“We could have batted much better, no doubt about it. But it’s the all-round game that requires attention. There’s a lot of work to do and it reflected in the batting, but there are things that need to be addressed in the bowling as well. So it’s the whole team effort that we need to look at,” said the former Indian left-handed batter told Gulf News.

“We didn’t have an ideal start to this tournament, But when the results don’t go your way, then it gives you a chance to reflect and ponder about what we can do better. Sometimes by winning a game many things are brushed under the carpet. So now we can look at us ourselves in the mirror and get better at what we need to do. So if we use it as a positive outcome, there’s a lot to learn.”

India face Bangladesh in opener

India will be playing a tri-series involving England and hosts South Africa before the Under-19 World Cup, which begins on December 29 and the final slated for January 10.

Team India are in Group A along with Bangladesh, Ireland and USA and begin their U19 World Cup campaign on January 20 against Bangladesh in Bloemfontein. India then play their next two group fixtures against Ireland and USA on January 25 & 28 respectively. The final of the marquee tournament will be played on February 11 in Benoni.

The showdown between India and Bangladesh featured Ariful Islam’s masterful counter-punching 94 and a fiery spell by left-arm pacer Maruf Mridha that left the Indian camp struggling.

Ariful Islam played a masterly knock of 94 to give Bangladesh a place in the final. Image Credit: Source: ACC

The Indian batters faced a challenging two-paced pitch, leading to their dismissal for 188 runs in 42.4 overs. Musheer Khan (50) and Murugan Abhishek (62) showcased resilience, forming an essential partnership that lifted India from a precarious 61 for 6. However, Maruf Mridha’s exceptional opening spell set the tone for Bangladesh, reducing India to 13 for 3 within seven overs.

Resilient partnership

Despite the setback, Musheer and Abhishek crafted an 84-run partnership for the seventh wicket, steering India to a modest total. Maruf Mridha finished with figures of 4 for 41, exploiting bounce and swing to trouble the Indian top order.

In the chase, Bangladesh faced their challenges, slipping to 34 for 3 in 9.4 overs. Ariful Islam, however, stood tall with a brilliant innings of 94 runs off 90 balls. Forming a resilient fourth-wicket partnership of 138 runs with Ahrar Amin (44 off 101 balls), Ariful played a crucial role in steering Bangladesh away from trouble. Despite losing a couple of late wickets, Bangladesh sealed the victory in 42.5 overs.

The win propelled Bangladesh into the final of the Under-19 Asia Cup, where they will face UAE, who caused a major upset by defeating Pakistan in the first semi-final.

— With inputs from IANS