By Sidhanta Patnaik in Sharjah
Tagenarine Chanderpaul’s 136-ball 112 goes in vain as India finishes Under-19 World Cup at fifth place
A total of 46 fours and 21 sixes were hit over two innings and Tagenarine Chanderpaul scored 112, but the shot of the day belonged to Sanju Samson. He hit an exquisitely timed cover drive for his first boundary – a classic example of everything that a batsman should do right – to get going in his innings of 67.
Samson was well supported by Ankush Bains (74), Shreyas Iyer (66) and Deepak Hooda (42 in 30 balls) as India, after winning the toss, posted 340 for 8 – the highest total in the competition so far.
In the second half of the game, Tristan Coleman and Nicolas Pooran chipped in with handy scores to support Chanderpaul, but West Indies could manage only 294 for 8 before its overs ran out.
That the track was one of the flattest in the tournament, and the bowlers had no assistance at all, was evident right from the first delivery when Bains got in line of a Jerome Jones delivery and drove it through the covers.
It set the tone of a day where 634 runs were scored and 16 wickets fell, of which only one was with a delivery that deserved reward.
Devoid of any pressure, India batted freely and it was visible in the body language of Bains and Akhil Herwadkar, the two openers. Aware that the possibility of picking up early wickets was difficult, West Indies focussed on saving boundaries as it opted for one slip and a sweeper cover in the mandatory Power Play overs. It even introduced a spinner by the eighth over.
However, that did little to stop the flow of runs as the openers milked the bowlers to put on 71 runs before Herwadkar miscued a sweep off Gudakesh Motie and Pooran took an easy catch behind the stumps.
Vijay Zol, returning to the side after serving his one-match ban, was circumspect to start with. He had not made a significant contribution in the campaign and was eager to make his last game as India’s captain at this level count.
While Bains brought up his half-century with a sweep, Zol made up for his slow start with four boundaries. However, just after their fifty-run partnership had been brought up, Bryan Charles, the offspinner, switched to bowling from around the wicket and the change of angle accounted for Zol, who became the second batsman to succumb to the sweep.
Soon Bains, who had hit the first six of the match off Jones – the fastest bowler on display, scooped an easy catch to midwicket and Preston McSween got his first wicket.
That brought Samson and Iyer, who had dismantled the Papua New Guinea attack at the same venue a week back, together. And, they continued their love affair with the ground. Elegant with their wrist work, they got into good positions, timed their shots well and found the gaps regularly on both sides of the wicket. By the time Samson went on the back foot to loft Ramaal Lewis over the cover fence, he had hit the most sixes in the tournament.
Iyer too looked confident. The pair scored 56 runs in the Batting Power Play and went on to add 124 runs in 89 balls before Iyer became the third man to fall to the sweep.
While wickets fell regularly after that (Samson was caught at long-on), Hooda went for his strokes. And by the time he had hit his second six, the West Indies fielders had stopped bothering to fetch the ball from the empty galleries.
If most of India’s sixes went into the stands, the West Indies batsmen went better – hitting three balls out of the ground. But none of them hit their shots more powerfully than Pooran.
Pooran had joined Chanderpaul after Coleman set the tempo of the chase with a brisk 45, before being the second wicket to fall in the innings after Shimron Hetmyer, and Brandon King had missed out on an opportunity to boost his batting average.
While Pooran went on the offensive, Chanderpaul, just like his illustrious father, frustrated India with a mix of aggression and caution. What was amazing about Chanderpaul was that he was able to switch between defence and attack seamlessly. That Ricky Bhui, the substitute, dropped an easy catch off him at midwicket when he was on 60 only made him more determined.
Chama Milind, however, managed to hold his own during the 89-run stand and then provided the breakthrough when Herwadkar caught Pooran at deep midwicket for 54.
Then came the best delivery of the match when Milind, bowling from close to the stumps, got Fabian Allen to edge an outgoing delivery and Bains took a good catch behind the stumps.
Chanderpaul played a square drive to bring up his century, but by then he had run out of partners, and he was finally trapped lbw by Zol in the penultimate over of the innings as India's campaign ended on a happy note.