| A jubilant Indian team with the winners’ trophy in Lahore on Thursday. (AFP)
Lahore: Robin Uthappa made a solid 88 as India beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets to win the Asian under-19 four-nation tournament at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.
After restricting the Lankans to a modest 225 in 49.4 overs, the Indian colts rode on unbeaten half centuries from Rakesh Solanki and captain Ambati Rayudu to achieve the target in 44.4 overs.
Uthappa, whose 86-ball 88 at the top laid the platform for India’s chase, was declared Man of the Match while left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan, who came up with another excellent bowling performance claiming three for 33, was named Man of the Series.
Pathan was in devastating form throughout the tournament, taking 18 wickets: 15 in the league stage — three each against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh plus nine versus Pakistan — besides his haul on Thursday.
This is the first official visit by an Indian cricket team at any level to Pakistan since 1998 when a junior side toured the neighbouring country. The quadrangular event between teams of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is part of the initiative by the Asian Cricket Council to promote the game in the continent at junior level.
In August, a triangular tournament featuring academy teams of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka was held in Colombo. With this victory in the final India also exacted revenge of their four wicket loss to Sri Lanka in the round-robin clash. Thereafter, the Indians scored sensational victories over hosts Pakistan and Bangladesh in league matches.
“Its a great team effort to become Asian junior champions, said Rayudu, soon after receiving the trophy from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Rameez Raja and ACC chief executive Ashraful Haq.
“We are pleased to have won the tournament in Pakistan and would tell people back home that it’s a fantastic place where we were looked after well,” Rayudu added.
Earlier, Sri Lankan captain Fervaiz Maharoof hit 57 for his team, which was pegged back by some fine paced bowling from Pathan and Sunny Singh who grabbed three for 35.
Meanwhile, according to manager Amitabh Choudhary — who has been kept busy with calls from the likes of BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya - the victorious Indian lads will be returning home via the land route (Wagah border). One understands they will leave Lahore as early as 7am on Friday.
“The Indian team management requested us to allow them to cross into India via Wagah. We took it up with the minister of interior who okayed the request,” a PCB spokesman said.