Calcutta: Vijay Zol and Sanju Samson’s centuries grabbed the headlines as the India under-19 side lifted the Asia Cup with a 40-run victory over Pakistan, on Saturday.
However, the bowlers too deserve a fair share of the credit for restricting Pakistan on a typically flat surface at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Kuldeep Yadav (three wickets), Chama Milind, Deepak Hooda and Amir Gani (two each) — all the Indian bowlers came up with disciplined displays to help the team to victory.
Gani, who bowls off-spin, is originally from Uttar Pradesh but is based in Calcutta. Gani, on Saturday, got the key wicket of Pakistan captain Sami Aslam.
Apart from scoring 87 himself, Sami’s partnership with Kamran Ghulam was threatening to take the game away from India.
“Those two Pakistani batsmen were threatening to take the match away from us… Sami’s dismissal was certainly a timely one. It really feels nice that I dismissed him at that stage because that eventually turned out to be the turning point.
“After breaking that partnership, things never really went out of our control. Their centurion (Ghulam) got no support from the other end after the fall of the fifth wicket,” Gani told The Telegraph from Abu Dhabi, on Sunday.
Gani finished with three wickets from two matches in the under-19 Asia Cup.
Gani, who represents Bengal at the domestic level, admitted that the squad was under tremendous pressure, especially as the final was against arch-rivals Pakistan. But despite being young, the team had the confidence to cope up with the pressure associated with the game, Gani said.
“Yes, of course there was a huge amount of pressure… It will always be there whenever you play against Pakistan.
“But having said that, each one of us were confident of our abilities. To be honest, the confidence level didn’t dip one bit,” he said.
Gani, however, rates his performance in the Youth one-dayers in Australia, back in July last year, as the best so far. “Spinners don’t get much help in Australia… Yet, I had picked up six wickets from three matches there.
“So I would say my performance Down Under has been my best till date. Besides, I had done well in the one-dayers in Visakhapatnam and Sri Lanka as well. Compared to these places, the pitch was flatter in Sharjah,” the 17-year-old said.
It’s still too early to predict, but Gani has a shining example from Uttar Pradesh, or should we say Bengal, to follow — Mohammed Shami.
“It obviously feels great if one takes my name after Shamibhai. But at the moment, I don’t want to look too far ahead. I have miles to go before I reach that stage,” Gani said.