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28 January 201616:49 By Sidhanta Patnaik, Mirpur

India U19 rides on Sarfaraz, Washington half-tons

From 55 for 4, former champion rallies to post 268 for 9 on its way to 79-run defeat of Ireland U19

Ireland Under-19’s best chance to beat India U-19 in its first 2016 ICC U-19 World Cup Group D match at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur on Thursday (January 28) was to bowl first and exploit the early morning conditions. It started off well and reduced India to 55 for 4 in 16.5 overs, but then ran into the mature fifth-wicket pair of Sarfaraz Khan and Washington Sundar.

The 110-run association nullified every inch of ground Ireland had gained, and set up India’s 79-run win. After India recovered well to finish on 268 for 9, Ireland fought admirably through Lorcan Tucker and William McClintock, but went as far as 189 before being bowled out in the final over.

Ireland struck off the third ball of the match when Joshua Little, the left-arm seamer who has an average speed of 130 kmph but bowled with monk-like discipline in his first spell, got a back-of-length delivery to move away just a little bit and take Ishan Kishan’s edge.

Having realised that they had to stick to one channel of attack on the offside and build blocks of dot balls with back-of-length deliveries, Ireland set appropriate fields that brought it three more quick wickets.

Rory Anders, the first-change right-arm seamer, had Rishabh Pant, the other opener who failed to find the gaps, caught behind. Ricky Bhui seemed to have overcome the odds with six fours, but checked his stroke to pop an easy catch to cover for Anders’ second wicket. And when Armaan Jaffer’s loose stroke off Gary McClintock gave wicketkeeper Lorcan his third catch, India was in some trouble towards the end of the 17th over.

By then, the sun had broken through in full glory and Sarfaraz understood that it was a matter of time before run-making became easy. For someone who loves to be challenged to deliver his best, the stage was set.

Sarfaraz played his strokes all round the wicket, and was particularly impressive with his horizontal shots. Except for one chance on 48 when Jack Tector, the Ireland captain, grassed a sitter at cover off Varun Chopra, the legspinner, there was hardly any evident weakness in Sarfaraz’s game for the bowlers to exploit.

He paced his innings with such intelligence that the run-rate, which had largely been under four runs an over till the 27th , suddenly spiked up without any risks being taken. But, things would not have been easy for Sarfaraz had Washington not showed equal intent.

The pair picked gaps easily and ran hard between the wickets, but punished the loose deliveries every time they were on offer. That the partnership contained only ten fours, but still came at 6.34 runs per over captured the purpose displayed by the duo.

Looking good for his maiden World Cup century in his second tournament appearance, Sarfaraz, in a rare misjudgment, missed a straightforward delivery from Harry Tector, the offspinner, and was stumped off the first ball after the second drinks break.

After Sarfaraz’s 70-ball 74, Mahipal Lomror became Little’s third victim, but Washington, in company of Zeeshan Ansari, continued to manoeuvre the field.

While Ansari hit the first six of the match during his run-a-ball 36, Washington went about his innings in an industrious manner, collecting the ones and twos.

When he was just starting to accelerate, Washington hit a full toss from Anders straight to a midwicket fielder off the first ball of the 45th over, but his 71-ball 62 had given India the momentum to add 43 runs in the last five overs.

Bogged down by the prospect a huge chase in front of them, both the Ireland openers were run out by two smart pick up and throws by Jaffer (overarm) and Kishan (underarm) from either side of the wicket within the fourth over.

Rahul Batham and Bhui at first slip combined to pick up two more wickets as Ireland was reduced to 46 for 4 in 16.2 overs. Adam Dennison's dismissal was particularly interesting as he edged a short delivery which Pant failed to catch behind the stumps, but Bhui was alert enough to hold on to the deflection off the wicketkeeper's gloves.

The game was developing into a one-sided affair when Lorcan and William got together to generate some excitement.

No matter how many bowling changes Kishan made, the pair hardly looked troubled. The authority with which they hit big shots during their 113-run stand left a frown on the face of Paras Mhambrey, India’s bowling coach.

Even though the rising required run-rate kept India ahead, the manner in which it was being treated raised concerns about the bowling unit’s lack of incisiveness.

The breakthrough finally came in legspinner Ansari’s last over when William, trying to go for a big shot over midwicket, was stumped for 58.

Lorcan, who played variants of the dilscoop with ease, reached his half-century soon after that, but the smiles were already back on the Indian faces by then.

To see full scorecard, click here