Townsville : Shoddy batting by top-order saw Unmukt Chand-led India U-19 side lose their opening World Cup match against the West Indies by four wickets on Sunday.
On a slow track at the Tony Ireland stadium, the Indian colts could never get going as they were restricted to a paltry 166 for eight in their stipulated 50 overs. Despite early hiccups, the West Indies team slowly but surely reached the target with 17 balls to spare. John Campbell (36) and Anthony Alleyne (52) added 58 runs for the third wicket to put West Indies on track while Alleyne and Kyle Mayers added another 58 for the fifth wicket to consolidate further.
It was India’s poor performance with the bat that led to this heart-breaking defeat. A lot depended on skipper Chand who made 22 but failed to get going as the track was not conducive for a free-flowing stroke player like him.
Jerome Jones(two wickets for 23 runs), Ronsford Beaton (three wickets for 33 runs) and Kyle Mayers(two wickets for 35 runs) shared the bulk of the spoils between them. Losing three quick wickets in the first 15 overs also pegged India back.
Prashant Chopra (one), Baba Aparajith (five) and the talented Hanuman Vihari (eight) were dismissed cheaply as India were struggling at 34 for three. Chand followed suit as he edged one to keeper Sunil Ambris off Mayers’s bowling as India were left tottering at 50 for four.
Zol (26) and wicket-keeper batsman Smit Patel (51) then added 41 runs for the fifth wicket while Patel and Akshdeep Nath added a further 44 runs for the sixth wicket as India managed to cross the 150-run mark.
The Indian bowlers started in right earnest as seamer Sandeep Sharma who took two wickets for 27 runs sent back the West Indies skipper and Test opener Kraigg Braithwaite (four) and his opening partner Sunil Ambris (four) early. He managed to move the ball both ways on a helpful track. His first spell figures read 5-2-5-2.
With limited options in the seam-bowling department, the Indian team could not press on and the skipper Unmukt Chand had to introduce the spinners as early as the 12th over.
But, the left-handed pair of John Campbell and Anthony Alleyne brought the chase back on track with an important 58-run partnership. Just when it appeared that West Indies would finish the match without further damage, two quick wickets by left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh managed to put brakes on the scoring rate.
Indian spinners Harmeet and other left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra managed to tighten their stranglehold on a slow pitch and did not allow West Indies to run away with the match.