| The triumphant India under-23 players with the trophy, in Singapore, on Sunday |
Singapore: The India under-23 team lifted the ACC Emerging Trophy tournament after thrashing arch-rivals Pakistan by nine wickets in the final with opener Lokesh Rahul (93 not out) being the star of a lop-sided chase, here, at the Kallang Ground, on Sunday.
One of cricket’s most famous rivalries at the junior level was reduced to a one-sided affair as the Indian colts chased down the 160-run target in just 33.4 overs.
In the bowling department, Baba Aparajith shone with a three-wicket burst, while pacers Sandeep Warrier and Sandeep Sharma grabbed two wickets apiece.
Rahul missed out on what would have been a well-deserved century by just seven runs, but he stitched an unbroken 132-run stand for the second wicket with Manprit Juneja (51 not out) as India rounded off their impressive run in the tournament.
The Indian team suffered an early blow in their run chase when Unmukt Chand was caught by wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan behind the stumps, off Raza Hasan, for 15 runs.
Unmukt smashed three boundaries in his knock as India went into the lunch interval at 38 for one, with 122 still required from 43 overs. Rahul and Juneja then combined well and put up a fine batting display to take the team past 100 at the end of the 23rd over.
In the process, Rahul reached his half-century with the help of eight boundaries, as the Pakistan bowlers looked clueless to defend a small total on a lively Kallang pitch.
Being well set, Rahul smashed spinner Hasan for a half-a-dozen in the 32nd over, clearing the deep mid-wicket fence. Juneja provided the fitting end to the proceedings with a hit for the maximum over the same region as the Indian side celebrated their well-deserved victory.
Earlier, the Pakistan team had an early advantage of putting up runs on board after winning the toss, but kept on losing wickets at regular intervals.
Pakistan suffered early blows when openers Mohammad Rizwan (21) and Babar Azam (7) fell to pacers Warrier and Sharma, respectively.
Usman Salahuddin (15) and Umar Waheed (41) steadied the ship with a fifty-plus stand for the third wicket before both fell in quick succession.