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Zol, Sanju lead India to Asia Cup triumph

- Pakistan lose by 40 runs despite Ghulam’s unbeaten hundred

Sharjah: India skipper Vijay Zol (100) and Sanju Samson (100) scored contrasting centuries as India colts posted a comprehensive 40-run win over arch-rivals Pakistan to clinch the U-19 Asia Cup title, here, on Saturday.

While Zol’s knock came off 120 balls, laced with seven fours and two sixes, Samson took just 87 deliveries for his hundred that included eight boundaries and four sixes, to help India reach 314 for eight in their allotted 50 overs.

In reply, Pakistan could reach 274 for nine, despite a fighting century from Kamran Ghulam (102 not out off 89balls).

Put in to bat, India got off to a solid start with openers Ankush Bains (47) and Akhil Herwadkar (12) putting on 65 runs in just 6.4 overs. It was medium-pacer Zia-ul Haq who got the first breakthrough for Pakistan by removing Herwadkar, while leg-spinner Karamat Ali dismissed Bains to reduce India to 85 for two.

However, Zol and Samson joined hands to share a massive 180-run partnership for the third wicket to give India the upper hand. The two batsmen kept on rotating the strike with singles and punished any loose delivery that came their way to keep the Pakistan bowlers at bay.

Karamat finally broke the partnership when he saw off Zol, who mistimed a shot and lofted it to Zafar Gohar at mid-on.

But Samson hit Karamat for two consecutive sixes in the next two deliveries. He, however, failed to sustain the onslaught for long and was dismissed a couple of overs later.

But by the time Samson departed, India were comfortably placed at 286 for four in 44.1 overs.

Chasing a massive target, Pakistan faltered from the very beginning, losing Mohammad Umair, Imam-ul Haq, Hasan Raza and Saifullah Khan cheaply, reeling at 88 for four. But opener Sami Aslam played a sensible knock and held on to the crease even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end.

Leading from the front, skipper Aslam finally found an able support in Kamran and the two put on a solid 93-run stand for the fifth wicket to keep Pakistan’s chances alive.

Amir Gani managed to break the dangerous partnership by dismissing Aslam, who departed after a well made 87 off 96 balls, studded with 10 boundaries. Ghulam, however, showed a lot of character as he continued to play aggressively, scoring at better than a run-a-ball.

But unfortunately, he kept running out of partners at the other end and it was a matter of time before Pakistan ran out of their allotted 50 overs, falling short by a considerable margin.

Kuldeep Yadav was the pick of the Indian bowlers with figures of three for 72, while Deepak Hooda, Gani and Chama Milind claimed two wickets apiece.

Meanwhile, BCCI president Narayanswamy Srinivasan congratulated the Indian team for their success in the competition. “The India under-19 team has excelled itself. Hearty congratulations to them for winning the Asia Cup," said Srinivasan. (PTI)