Thrash Pakistan in a lop-sided final

Singapore: The Indian under-23 team lifted the ACC Emerging Trophy tournament after thrashing arch-rivals Pakistan by nine wickets in the final with opener Lokesh Rahul (93) being the star of a lop-sided chase on Sunday. One of cricket’s most famous rivalries at the junior level was reduced to a one-sided contest as the Indian Colts chased down the 160-run target in just 33.4 overs.

In the bowling department, Baba Aparajith shone with a three-wicket burst, while pacers Sandeep Warrier and Sandeep Sharma grabbed two wickets each. Rahul missed out on what would have been a well-deserved century by just seven runs but stitched an unbroken 132-run stand for the second wicket with Manprit Juneja (51 not out) as India rounded off their impressive unbeaten run in the tournament.

India suffered an early blow in their run chase when former U-19 skipper Unmukt Chand was caught by wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan behind the stumps off Raza Hasan for 15 runs.

Unmukt smashed three boundaries in his knock as India took the lunch at 38 for one with 122 still required from 43 overs. Rahul and Juneja then combined well and put up a fine batting display to take the team past 100 at the end of the 23rd over. In the process, Rahul reached his  half-century with the help of eight boundaries as the Pakistani bowlers looked clueless to defend a small total on a lively Kallang pitch.
Both showed maturity in their approach and never went for risky shots. They produced a magnificent show of batting which saw them mix caution and aggression.

Rahul even smashed spinner Hasan for a six in the 32nd over to clear the deep midwicket fence. Juneja provided the fitting end to the proceedings with a hit to the maximum over deep midwicket as the Indian side celebrated its well-deserved victory. All the Indian U-23s players took a victory lap after their triumph.

Earlier, Pakistan had an early advantage to score the runs after winning the toss but they kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. Pakistan suffered early blows when openers Mohammad Rizwan (21) and Babar Azam (7) fell to pacers Warrier and Sharma respectively.

Usman Salahuddin (15) and Umar Waheed (41) steadied the ship with a fifty-plus stand for the third wicket but both fell in quick succession. Pacer Suryakumar Yadav came up with a fiery spell as he removed the well-settled Waheed (41) and Salahuddin. Pakistan never recovered from there on and lost five wickets in a heap to plunge to 107 for nine from 95 for four.

Right-arm offbreak Aparajith struck twice in back to back overs as he dismissed Hammad Azam (0) and Mohammad Waqas (5) back to the pavilion. Pakistan lost three more wickets in Mohammad Nawaz (3), Raza Hasan (2) and Bilawal Bhatti (1) as there innings looked for an early pack-up. Ehsan Adil and Usman Qadir showed some fightback as both tailenders stitched 52-run partnership for the last wicket to provide some semblance of respectability to the score.

Brief Scores
Pakistan U-23: 159 all out in 47 overs (Umar Waheed 41, Usman Qadir 33; Baba Aparajith 3/28, Sandeep Sharma 2/20) lose to India U-23: 160 for one in 33.4 overs (Lokesh Rahul 93 not out, Manprit Juneja 51
not out; Raza Hasan 1/41) by 9 wickets

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