Cricket: Zol, Samson star as India beat Pakistan to lift U-19 Asia Cup


January 4, 2014

Brief Scorecard: India Under-19 314 for 8 (Zol 100, Samson 100) beat Pakistan Under-19 274 for 9 (Ghulam 102, Aslam 87*) by 40 runs

Future is bright: Sanju Samson with Vijay Zol.

January 4, 2014

Brief Scorecard: India Under-19 314 for 8 (Zol 100, Samson 100) beat Pakistan Under-19 274 for 9 (Ghulam 102, Aslam 87*) by 40 runs

Future is bright: Sanju Samson with Vijay Zol.

SHARJAH: The World champions of junior cricket have roared at the perfect time. With less than two months to go before they begin defending their Under-19 World Cup crown, India made an emphatic statement by winning the Asia Cup in Sharjah on Sunday, beating arch-rivals Pakistan by 40 runs in a thrilling final.

Put into bat, the Indian colts made 314 for four, with skipper Vijay Zol and Sanju Samson – two of the hottest young talents in India presently – smashing hundreds after India enjoyed a 65-run stand in just 6.4 overs, largely due to opener Ankush Bains, who smashed 47 (34b, 7×4, 1×6). Both made exactly 100.

While Zol's effort took him 120 balls, and included seven fours and a couple of sixes, Samson's knock came off merely 87 balls (8×4, 4×6). Both added 180 for the third wicket to ensure India finished with a massive total. Pakistan, in reply, were restricted to 287 for eight, as Kamran Gulam (102 not out) and skipper Sami Aslam's (87) efforts went in vain. For India, left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav took three for 72.

It is a triumph that should stand India in good stead for the forthcoming World Cup which will be held in UAE too.

"Ankush gave us a fabulous start and then both Samson and Zol, whose roles were critical, batted brilliantly before losing concentration on getting their hundreds. We should have got 360-odd but still got a reasonable total. We then bowled and fielded well to defend our score successfully against a very good Pakistan side. Even beating Sri Lanka in the semis wasn't easy. It was an excellent all-round performance by the boys and an ideal exposure to the conditions that will be prevalent during the World Cup. Both the teams enjoyed tremendous crowd support and the atmosphere of the final was electric. It was a joy to win this tournament with this lovely bunch," an elated Bharat Arun, coach of the India U-19 team, told TOI moments after the victory.

It was redemption time for the colts too. In the last Asia Cup, back in July 2012, India had to share the trophy with Pakistan after the final finished in a tie. In this edition, India had already lost to the Green Brigade once in the league stage – on December 31 – by two wickets.

"Pakistan won that game by a whisker. Before the final, our boys were fired up in the team meeting. I'm glad we pulled off a comfortable win in a tough match," Arun said, revealing an interesting fact – this team has as many as seven left-handers!

While the coach understandably chose to praise all his wards, he conceded that Maharashtra's Zol and Kerala's Samson were 'special boys.' "Both are technically sound. They don't play rash strokes. They have tremendous power and the gift of timing which enables them to clear boundaries comfortably. They have the experience of the IPL and the Ranji behind them now. They are in for a bigger league," Arun gushed.

Amongst the bowlers, he singled out Kuldeep Yadav and medium-pacers Deepak Hooda and pacer Avesh Khan for special praise.

"Yadav is a real talent. He has great attitude and he is a wicket-taking bowler. He can bowl well under pressure and batsmen would find it tough to hit him out of the attack."

Arun revealed that his wards were "too tired right now to celebrate". "They will turn out for their Ranji sides after returning. We will then have a camp for the World Cup before launching into the campaign."

Courtesy: PTI