India produced a superlative bowling performance to win by five runs against Bangladesh in the final of the Under-19 Asia Cup in Colombo on Saturday to successfully defend their title.
Batting first, India managed just 106 runs, bowled out in the 33rd over. Karan Lal and captain Dhruv Jorel made crucial 30s while Bangladesh produced a clinical bowling effort. The run-chase was a thriller, with Bangladesh recovering from 16/4 to make a fighting effort at chasing the target down.
Captain Akbar Ali was holding the innings together but Atharva Ankolekar (5/28) snapped up that crucial wicket after a rain break. From there on, India held their nerves to win by five runs. The left-arm spinner picked up two wickets in one over to wrap up the game for India, with Bangladesh one shot away from victory.
India finished the tournament unbeaten, having won all three of their group stage matches while the semi-final was washed out against Sri Lanka.
With this win India continued their dominance of the tournament, winning the trophy for the seventh time in eight editions.
The last edition of the tournament took place in Bangladesh in 2018, where India beat Sri Lanka in the final. That was India’s sixth trophy out of the seven editions. The tournament, happening annually since 2016, has been India’s territory: only Afghanistan are the other team to have won the trophy outright, with Pakistan sharing the title once with India.
While Ankolekar spun a web of spin to derail Bangladesh’s chase, he was supported well by pacer Akash Singh, who accounted for three wickets in a superb opening spell before walking off injured. Vidyadhar Patil (1/25) and Sushant Mishra (1/27) also chipped in with one wicket each at the R Premadasa Stadium.
Chasing a small target of 107, skipper Ali (23) and Mrittunjoy Chowdhury (21) kept Bangladesh in the hunt.
After they were back to the pavillion, Tanzim Hasan Sakib (12) and Rakibul Hasan (11) raised hopes of a Bangladesh win before India fought back to bundle them out.
Earlier, skipper Dhruv Jurel (33) and lower-order batsman Karan Lal (37) came up with useful contributions to help India cross the 100-run mark.
India’s decision to bat first after winning the toss backfired big time as left-arm pacer Mrittunjoy Chowdhury (3/18) and off-spinner Shamim Hossain (3/8) wreaked havoc on the Indian batsmen.
Opener Arjun Azad was the first to go as he was caught behind by Akbar Ali off Tanzim Hasan Sakib’s bowling in the third over.
In the next over, Tilak Varma was sent back by Mrittunjoy with Tanzid Hasan taking another catch and after the other opener Parkar was run out by Tanzid Hasan, India U-19 team had slipped to 8 for 3.
Shashwat Rawat (19) and skipper Jurel then steadied the ship and brought up the team fifty before the former was trapped leg-before by Hossain in the 15th over.
Two balls later, Varun Lavande (0) was dismissed for naught by Hossain as India U-19 lost half their side for 53 for five in 14.4 overs.
Atharva Ankolekar (2) was then run-out in the 20th over, while Hossain accounted for Jurel in the next over.
In 26th over, Sushant Mishra (3) walked back to the pavillion when he was caught by Akbar Ali off Shahin Alam’s bowling, while Vidyadhar Patil was removed by Mrittunjoy in the next over.
Karan was the last batsman to be dismissed as India U-19 were bundled out for a paltry score of 106 in 32.4 overs.
But a spirited bowling display helped India defend their continental crown.