India emerges Asian under-19 champion

THE day is not far when Irfan Pathan (Jr.) would don the Indian blazer and challenge the leading batsmen around the world with his lethal left-arm swing bowling.

RIZWAN ESHAN ALI

The jubilant Indian under-19 team with the trophy. -- Pic. AP-

THE day is not far when Irfan Pathan (Jr.) would don the Indian blazer and challenge the leading batsmen around the world with his lethal left-arm swing bowling. The 19-year-old well-built Pathan sent shivers into the ranks of the participating teams in the Asian Under-19 championship — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. His tally of 18 wickets in four games virtually guided India to the title.

In the hometown of Pakistan's legendary left-arm fast bowler Wasim Akram, Irfan Pathan reserved his best against the hapless Bangladesh at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Like Wasim, Pathan has quickly learnt the art of giving batsmen little room to play their strokes freely. Out of his nine Bangladesh victims, eight were either trapped leg before or bowled or edged to wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik.

Irfan Pathan (Jr.) receiving the Man of the Match award from Aamir Sohail, Chief Selector of the Pakistan Cricket Board, for his nine-wicket performance against Bangladesh. -- Pic. AP-

The figures of nine for16 clearly indicate that this south paw would soon get promotion into the senior ranks and challenge the much seasoned Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar.

Sri Lanka v India: Both India and Pathan were off to a bad start when Sri Lanka recorded a four-wicket win in the opening game. Sri Lankan captain, Mohammad Maharoof (four for 21), polished off the Indian top order with his seam bowling after electing to bat. However, Karthik (35) and Pathan (32) added 60 runs for the seventh wicket which helped India post 194 for nine off the allotted 50 overs. Pathan conceded 61 runs for his three wickets as opener Harsha Vithana stayed unbeaten on 72 off 116 balls and Sri Lanka romped home with more than eight overs and four wickets to spare. Sri Lanka hobbled at 88 for four when Pathan removed Maharoof and Kosala Kulusekara in his second spell, but Ganganath Ratnayake (41) and Man of the Match Vithana added 73 runs for the fifth wicket to help Sri Lanka win.

Pakistan v Bangladesh: Pakistan emerged as the favourite for the final when opener Sohail Ahmed (117 not out) and Shahid Yousuf (112) scored the only centuries of the tournament against Bangladesh in the home team's convincing 117-run victory. Pakistan's 291 for five wickets in 50 overs was always a tough target for Bangladesh, which preferred to bat out the full quota, and finished at 174 for nine with Nazimuddin (42) as the top scorer. Leg-spinner Mansoor Amjad grabbed four wickets for 37 while Shahid, after his fine century chipped in with three for 36 with his off-spin to win the Man of the Match award. Sohail and Shahid put on 189 runs in as many deliveries for the third wicket as Bangladesh bowlers erred in line and length and bowled 31 wides. Shahid hit two sixes and eight boundaries in his 101-ball century before he was caught in the deep off left-arm spinner Nadif Chowdhary late in the innings. Sohail consumed 154 balls for his undefeated 117 which contained eight fours and a six.

Robin Uthappa, who made a splendid 88 against Sri Lanka, was named the Man of the Final. -- Pic. AFP-

Pakistan v India: Pakistan had only itself to blame for its defeat in what was dubbed as the match of the tournament. Salman Qadir, son of former Test leg-spinner Abdul Qadir, made an unbeaten 57, but his team-mates failed to give him enough support to guide Pakistan home in a low-scoring encounter. Robin Uthappa made 40 and Pathan scored a quickfire 28 before India was dismissed for 148 in 38.2 overs. Medium fast Riaz Afridi claimed three wickets for 18 runs off his 10 overs while captain Khalid Latif ran through the middle-order (three for 27) and Mansoor also grabbed three wickets for 33 runs. However, Pakistan top order batsmen succumbed to Man of the Match Pathan's pace (three for 23) and was five down for 13. However, Shahid (27) and Salman stemmed the rot with a 55-run sixth wicket stand before Shahid drove recklessly and gave skipper Ambati Rayudu an easy catch in the covers. Wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider also couldn't last long and became V. R. Singh's third victim as Pakistan slipped to 72 for seven. But Salman found an useful ally when Riaz (27) held his nerves and added 58 runs as the Indians vociferously appealed each time the ball struck the pads of both the Pakistani batsmen. Riaz hoisted off-spinner Avinash Yadav for a big six over long on which brought Pakistan just 19 runs away from victory before the batsman lost his composure and was bowled off the next delivery. Mansoor was trapped leg before two balls later and Salman struggled to get the strike back. Although last man Wahab Riaz added eight runs, Yadav had him leg before as India kept its hopes alive for the final with a 10-run victory.

Sri Lanka v Bangladesh: Sri Lanka stormed into the final with a convincing eight-wicket win over Bangladesh in its second league game. Opener Naeem Islam (33) was Bangladesh's highest scorer while No. 9 batsman Rubaiyat Haq made 30 in a total of 166. Sri Lankan openers Damindu Kularatne (75 not out) and Harsha Vithana (50) shared an opening stand of 105 before overhauling Bangladesh's score in 43.5 overs for the loss of two wickets.

India v Bangladesh: Irfan Pathan's magical figures of nine for 16 mesmerised Bangladesh as India recorded a massive 189-run victory and made its entry into the final. Wicket-keeper batsman Karthik scored a splendid 77 while Suresh Raina missed half century by three runs and Pathan (34) once again scored some invaluable runs as India posted a healthy total of 223. Bangladesh batsmen had no clue to play the swinging yorkers of Pathan as the paceman ran through the entire line-up in his superb 7.5-over spell. The match finished inside the first 15 overs as Bangladesh was routed for 34 runs in 14.5 overs.

Suresh Raina in an aggressive mood during his knock of 47 against Bangladesh. -- Pic. AP-

Pakistan v Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka quashed Pakistan's hopes of making the final when it recorded a narrow 14-run victory and stayed unbeaten in the three league games. Vithana (51) scored his third successive half century of the tournament while Man of the Match K. Silva made a polished 88. Captain Maharoof remained unbeaten on 57 in Sri Lanka's challenging total of 248 for five off 50 overs. Vithana and Silva helped Sri Lanka recover from an early setback of 29 for three with a 103-run fourth wicket stand. Silva then combined with Maharoof for another century stand for the fifth wicket and dominated over the bowlers with some crisp hitting. Silva hit 10 boundaries while Maharoof's 57 off 56 balls contained four fours and a six. Pakistan made a solid start of 59 runs in 11 overs but the innings lost momentum once off-spinner Ratnayake grabbed three wickets for 34 runs. Opener Jehangir hit 65 off 77 balls and Riaz scored 62 off 35 deliveries with five sixes and three fours, but their efforts were not enough to stop Sri Lanka from winning.

Final: Indian batsmen reserved their best for the match against the Sri Lankans while registering an eight-wicket victory in the final. Solanki and captain Rayudu hit strokeful unbeaten half centuries and had little trouble in getting past the Sri Lankan total of 225 with more than five overs to spare. Solanki scored an unbeaten 56 while Rayudu hit 54 off 53 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes. Solanki and Rayudu shared an unbeaten 90 runs partnership for the third wicket after the opener A. R. Uthappa made a splendid 88 (86 balls, 13 fours).

Earlier, after being sent in to bat, Sri Lanka's innings featured Mohammad Maharoof's 57 off 65 balls and R. Ratnayake (45). However, after they had shared a century stand for the fifth wicket and were both dismissed in the space of three overs, India restricted Sri Lanka. Irfan Pathan grabbed three wickets for 33 to raise his tally to 18 in the tournament and won the Player of the Event award while right-arm seamer Sunny Singh chipped in with three for 35.

The scores: League games:

Oct. 31: India 194 for nine in 50 overs (A. Rayudu 38, D. Karthik 35, I. Pathan (Jr.) 32, M. Maharoof four for 21, A. Mathews three for 23) lost to Sri Lanka 195 for six in 41.5 overs (H. Vithana 72, G. Ratnayake 41, Irfan Pathan three for 61).

Pakistan 291 for five in 50 overs (Sohail Ahmed 117, Shahid Yousuf 112) beat Bangladesh 174 for nine in 50 overs (Nazimuddin 42, Naeem Islam 29, Mansoor Amjad four for 37, Shahid Yousuf three for 36).

Nov. 2: India 148 in 38.2 overs (A. R. Uthappa 40, I. Pathan 28, Riaz Afridi three for 18, Khalid Latif three for 27, Mansoor Amjad three for 33) beat Pakistan 138 in 34.2 overs (Salman Qadir 57 not out, Shahid Yousuf 27, Riaz Afridi 27, A. Yadav three for 10, I. Pathan three for 23, V. R. Singh three for 58).

Bangladesh 166 in 44.5 overs (Naeem Islam 33, Rubaiyat Haq 30) lost to Sri Lanka 167 for two in 43.5 overs (D. Kularatne 75 not out, H. Vithana 50).

Wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik came up with scores of 35 and 77 against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh respectively. -- Pic. AP-

Nov. 4: Sri Lanka 248 for five in 50 overs (K. Silva 88, M. Maharoof 57 not out, H. Vithana 51, Riaz Afridi three for 51) beat Pakistan 234 in 48.2 overs (Jahangir Mirza 65, Riaz Afridi 62, Sohail Ahmed 30, G. Ratnayake three for 34).

India 223 in 48.4 overs (D. Karthik 77, S. Raina 47, I. Pathan 34, Nadif Chowdhary three for 22, Naeem Islam three for 40) beat Bangladesh 34 in 14.5 overs (I. Pathan nine for 16).

Final: Nov. 6: Sri Lanka 225 in 49.4 overs (R. Ratnayake 45, M. Maharoof 57, C. Kulasekara 29, I. Pathan three for 33, S. Singh three for 35) lost to India 226 for two in 44.4 overs (A. R. Uthappa 88, R. Solanki 56 not out, A. Rayudu 54 not out).