India Under-23 have made the final of the Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup with a 46-run win over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the first semifinal here Friday.
In what turned out to be another low-scoring match, the Indian colts defended a modest 208 as the opposition folded for 162 runs in 48.3 overs, the BCCI website reported.
India will now meet Pakistan, who defeated Sri Lanka by one wicket in the second semi-final, in the title clash Sunday. It was a welcome win for India after their shock loss to Afghanistan Thursday.
Pacer Akshar Patel (4/29) was the pick of the Indian bowlers while Manpreet Juneja (76) top-scored with the bat for them. Juneja’s was a laboured knock that mostly comprised running between the wickets - his runs came in 121 balls with a solitary boundary in form of a six.
After skipper Suryakumar Yadav elected to bat first, India were dealt an early blow in form of Unmukt Chand (0) in the first over. However, a 94-run stand between opener Lokesh Rahul (43) and Juneja (76) put the innings back on course.
The UAE bowlers snuck back into the match with regular wickets as the middle-order batsmen failed to convert their starts. Juneja was the only Indian batsman to score a half-century as wickets tumbled around him.
UAE off-spinner, Nasir Aziz (5/51) was India’s tormentor-in-chief and after dismissing Ankit Bawne (23) and Ashok Menaria (30), he returned to clean up the tail quickly. Aziz was wonderfully supported by Mohammad Naveed (3/37) who was both economical and among wickets.
The start to UAE’s innings was identical to that of their opponents - an early wicket followed by a big partnership. When Shaiman Anwar (44) and Swapnil Patil (41) were batting together, en route their 89-run stand, it seemed like a matter of time before UAE will chase down the target.
However, Patel struck twice in the 25th over and picked up another wicket in his next over to leave UAE reeling at 102 for 4. Sandeep Sharma ensured it was 105 for 5 soon.
UAE’s innings had sunk too deep in trouble to recover and eventually they fell 46 runs short of their target as besides Anwar and Patil none of their batsmen managed to breach the 20-run mark.
Brief scores: India U-23 208 all-out in 49.5 overs (Juneja 76; Aziz 5/51) beat UAE 162 all-out in 48.3 overs (Anwar 44; Patel 4/29) by 46 runs.