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Harnoor Singh got off to an impressive start to the Asia Cup with a century against hosts UAE at ICC Academy grounds on Thursday. Image Credit: Courtesy: ACC

Dubai: Indian opener Harnoor Singh’s century and Rajvardhan Hangargekar’s fiery spell and the lack of experience cost UAE the opening match of the Asian Cup at the ICC Academy Grounds in Dubai on Thursday.

The UAE did themselves proud by limiting India to a par score of 282 for 5 in 50 overs and staying in the chase during the early part before succumbing to the pressure created by India. The hosts were dismissed for 128.

“We bowled well and 275 is a par on this wicket, but after a decent start we lost wicket in clusters. We lacked a few partnerships in the middle and that led to the collapse. We will sort out our mistakes and come back fresh into the next game,” UAE skipper Alishan Sharafu said after the loss.

“Every game is an opportunity to learn. They are a good side and it was a good test for us. At least majority of the first innings we did well, but again our batters just didn’t rise to occasion.”

Harnoor extended his good form to score 120 off 130 deliveries after Sharafu won the toss and put the Men in Blue to bat on a slow but consistent pitch that offered plenty of assistance to the bowlers early in the game.

Harnoor had two fruitful partnerships, 90 with Shaik Rasheed and then 120 with skipper Yash Dull. Hangargekar’s quick-fire unbeaten 48 off just 23 balls lifted India to a good total.

“It’s been a good first game for us. We did a good job of getting about 280 on a slow but consistent pitch. Playing shot on the up was a little difficult that we normally see in One-day cricket and one had to really manoeuvre the ball around. It’s a good thing to face all these challenges, especially for under-19’s who don’t have much exposure. We have learnt a lot from this,” India coach Hrishekesh Kanitkar said.

“The bowling was challenged a little bit as they got off to a good start, so the bowlers had to bowl really well and the fielders also did well to pull them down. Overall happy with the way we played,” the former Indian middle-order batter said as he looked forward to the challenges ahead.

In reply, the UAE had a good start with the top three batters, led by opener Kai Smith, keeping the hosts in the chase. But the loss of Dhruv Parashar (19) and Sharafu (11) gave India the right opening and they grabbed the chance with both hands.

Pacer Hangargekar produced a fiery second spell to keep the UAE batters on their toes after Garv Sangwan and Kaushal Tambe gave the vital breakthroughs.

“Skill wise we are pretty much the same with India, but the game awareness and how they apply ourselves in the middle overs are lacking in us. If we could incorporate that in their game then that would help us in the next game and obviously the under-19 World Cup,” Sharafu said. “If we spend more time in the middle and apply ourselves better, the results will change.”

Harnoor Singh
Harnoor Singh receiving the player of the match award for his century. Image Credit: A.K.S. Satish/Gulf News

Special feeling

Commenting on the century, Player of the Match Harnoor said: “It is a special feeling to get a century in the Asia Cup. Though I did hit a century last month [111 against in Bangladesh] in the Triangular series, I would rate this as more important. This knock is also special since I have been able to help my country get off to a good start in this tournament.”

Pakistan defeated Afghanistan by four wickets in a low-scoring match at the ICC Academy 2. Pakistan bowled out Afghanistan for 52 with Ahmed Khan bagging three for 21. He was well-supported by Zeeshan Zameer (2 for 12) and Awais Ali (2 for 9). In reply, Pakistan faced a stiff challenge from Afghanistan and lost six wickets before they could cross the winning line.

Commenting on the victory, Pakistan skipper Qasim Akram said: “We are very happy to get off to a winning start. We bowled really well although the finish was not what we wanted. We will work harder on our batting. We lost some quick wickets due to some rushed shots. Overall we are happy with our performance.”

Sri Lanka have it easy

In the third match of the day, Sri Lanka registered an impressive 274-run victory over Kuwait at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Sri Lanka displayed their batting might to pile up 323 for 5 with Pawan Pathiraja leading the run spree before bowling Kuwait out for 49.

Brief scores

UAE beat India 154 runs. India 282 for 5 in 50 overs (Harnoor Singh 120, Yash Dhull 63; Alishan Sharafu 2-44) UAE 128 in 34.3 overs (Kai Smith 45; Rajvardhan Hangargekar 3-24, Vicky Oswal 2-7). Man of the match: Harnoor Singh (India)

Pakistan beat Afghanistan four wickets. Afghanistan 52 in 23.1 overs (Ahmed Khan 3-21, Zeeshan Zameer 2-12, Awais Ali 2-9) Pakistan 53 for 6 in 16.4 overs (Noor Ahmed Lakanwal 3-20). Man of the match: Awais Ali (Pakistan).

Sri Lanka beat Kuwait by 274 runs. Sri Lanka 323 for 5 in 50 overs (Chamindu Wickramasinghe 54, Shevon Daniel 54, Pawan Pathiraja 86, Ranuda Somarathne 60 not out) Kuwait 49 in 17.4 overs (Sadisha Rajapaksa 3-4, Dunith Wellalage 4-2). Man of the match: Pawan Pathiraja (Sri Lanka).