NEW DEHLI (92 News) – Emulating the feats of the senior side last month, India U19s have secured the Asia Cup title, completing an impressive unbeaten campaign with victory over Sri Lanka in Dhaka.
Sri Lanka struggled to keep up with the pace in response to India's 304/3, and despite a couple of spirited knocks the Sri Lankans were 144 runs short, thanks in part to a magnificent bowling performance courtesy of left-arm spinner Harsh Tyagi.
India recorded victories of huge margins in the earlier rounds, beating Nepal by 172 runs and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by 227, before hosts Bangladesh ran them extremely close in the semi-final, losing out by just five runs in an exciting encounter.
The final was not as enthralling for the neutral, but some masterful displays with both bat and ball from some of India's most promising young cricketers ensured that they won the tournament for the fourth time in the last five editions.
Having lost the toss and been given bowling duties, Sri Lanka had their work cut out as India's openers, Yashasvi Jaiswal (85) and Anuj Rawat (57) put on a stand of 121, before the latter fell at the hands of Dulith Wellalage- the 15-year old spinner grabbing his solitary scalp, trapping the half-centurion leg-before-wicket.
India proceeded to pile on the pressure as Devdut Padikkal manoeuvred the ball around the park nicely for his 31, but when Jaiswal was forced to depart and Padikkal followed him soon after, an injection of impetus was needed to propel the batting side to a formidable score. At 194/3 when the third wicket went down in the 41st over, Sri Lanka would have been reasonably happy with the modest run-rate, but wickets in hand meant that India still had plenty of hitters in their arsenal.
Some high-quality, tight spin-bowling from Kalhara Senarathne (1/45) and Kalana Perera (1/55) had gone a long way to restricting the Indians, but once Sri Lanka claimed their third scalp, India began to play with much more urgency.
A magnificent, destructive middle-order display from skipper Simran Singh and Ayush Badoni ensued and succeeded in taking the game from Sri Lanka. Between them they hit nine sixes in as many overs to drive their side to a total of 300-plus.
Singh, standing in as captain for the injured Pawan Shah, smashed an unbeaten 65 from 37, while Badoni made a rapid 52 from 28, the pair of them notching strike-rates of 176 and and 186 respectively. The partnership of 110 put momentum firmly with India, and 304 proved too mighty a total for Sri Lanka- a side that was also unbeaten in its run to the final.
Nishan Madushka provided hope from the top of the order in reply with a well-constructed 49, and middle-order batsman Navod Paranavithana chipped in with 48, but of the rest of the Sri Lankan batting line-up, only two more reached double figures, and India dismissed their opponents for 160 inside 39 overs.
Tyagi was the hero, taking 6/38 in his 10 overs to secure India's Asia Cup victory. Mohit Jangra was economical for his return of 1/18 from seven overs, and the tournament's winners will be delighted with a professional all-round display in the crucial finale.