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Samson, Sarfaraz, Hooda take India to win

Pakistan falls 40 runs short of target in Under-19 World Cup Group A game

Samson, Sarfaraz, Hooda take India to win - Cricket News
Sarfaraz Khan of India was awarded man of the match by David East, CEO of Emirates Cricket Board.
Sarfaraz Khan made a punchy 74 to rescue India from the woods, bowled engagingly for a wicket, played his part in one run out and took four catches to orchestrate a 40-run win in India’s first Group A match against Pakistan in its Under-19 World Cup Group A game at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Saturday (February 15).

For the record, India, after winning the toss, made 262 for 7 and then bowled Pakistan out for 222 in 48.4 overs. 

When Sarfaraz came out to bat, India was 94 for 4 with 30.4 overs still left in the innings. He could not get off the mark for 15 balls and was even dropped in the slips off Zafar Gohar, the left-arm spinner. That was when he decided to bring the sweep out, and that triggered the shift in gears. He played as many as nine sweeps in his knock, of which three went to the fence. Curiously, the Pakistan spinners kept feeding him with deliveries within his reach and he accepted them gleefully.

The composed presence of Sanju Samson at the other end worked in Sarfaraz’s, and India’s, favour. Determination, after two low-key outings in the warm-ups, writ large on his face, Samson sussed the match situation and batted with wristy elegance.

The best part of the fifth-wicket partnership of 119 runs between Samson and Sarfaraz was the manner in which it was constructed. While Samson ensured that the scoreboard kept ticking over, Sarfaraz attacked to ensure that the bowlers did not settle into a rhythm. In the process, they helped India register its first score of over 200 against Pakistan in eight Under-19 World Cup encounters. 

Finally, in the 43rd over, bowled by Gohar, Sarfaraz was caught by Hasan Raza running forward from deep extra cover. And soon after, Samson, after scoring 68, could not get a pull shot right and Saifullah Khan, the wicketkeeper, avoided a collision with Irfanullah Shah, the bowler, to take a well-judged high catch. Deepak Hooda, however, made use of the strong platform to take India to a strong total with an unbeaten 18-ball 22. He would later pick up five wickets to ensure India’s victory. 

Before the Samson-Sarfaraz show, Ankush Bains and Akhil Herwadkar, the openers, had got India off to a solid start, the waywardness of the Pakistani seamers helping them. Both were on the money, playing the hook and pull particularly well as the seamers bowled a barrage of short deliveries on a pitch that was being used for the second game in two days. 

Pakistan rectified its line of attack and was rewarded immediately. Irfanullah got one to go between Bains’s bat and pad and rattle the stumps and Zia then trapped Vijay Zol in front of the wicket. Herwadkar, who had grown in confidence by then, failed to execute a cut and was bowled by Karamat Ali, the legspinner. Karamat then deceived Ricky Bhui with his change of pace to earn an easy caught and bowled dismissal. 

Pakistan’s chase got off to a steady start. Some accurate bowling from Chama Milind and Avesh Khan tested the opening pair of Sami Aslam and Imam-ul-Haq, Inzamam-ul-Haq’s nephew. However, having seen off the seamers, they built at ease against the spinners. In fact, Sami’s straight-bat strokes made for some delightful viewing. 

In the first 23 overs, only five times could the openers score over six runs an over and the pressure was clearly mounting, and Imam played a few rash shots. But, Sami, who, after the 64 he scored on Saturday, has five scores of fifty-plus in six innings against India, used his experience well and the two motored along to register Pakistan’s highest opening partnership against India at this level. 

With no wickets in the kitty, it was a cat-and-mouse game in the middle and India would have felt under the pump for a while. However, Imam gave in after having made 39 in 62 balls when he tried to lift Aamir Gani, the offspinner, over long-off but got the elevation wrong and Sarfaraz held on to his first catch of the afternoon. 

Soon, Raza dabbed the ball to short midwicket and Sami set off when there was no run. Zol swiftly covered ground and made a sharp return to Gani, who whipped off the bails with Sami well short of the crease. With the well-set Sami gone, India was firmly in control. 

Sarfaraz bowled Raza, Kamran Ghulam was run out, Hooda trapped Saifullah in front of the stumps, and then had Gohar caught by Sarfaraz before Karamat was caught at short fine-leg. That made it four for Hooda, which later became 5 for 41 after he sent back Zia.

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