India and Pakistan could not be separated, in a gripping finale to the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup, the match ending in a tie after a last-ball dismissal at the Kinara Academy Oval on Sunday.
Put in, Pakistan rode on a century by Sami Aslam, the opener, to post an intimidating 282 for 9. Unmukt Chand, the Indian captain, responded with a century of his own to put India, the two-time defending champions, in the driver's seat but a late collapse gave Pakistan a chance and they grabbed it gratefully. Rush Kalaria was dismissed off the last delivery with one run required as India settled for 282 for 8, the match ending in a tie and the teams sharing the trophy.
In a group stage game between these two sides last week, in a similarly big run-chase, India fell one run short of 288, losing by the thinnest of margins. Victory eluded them this time as well as they lost five wickets in the last six overs when what was needed was a dollop of composure.
After losing Manan Vohra early in the chase, Chand and Baba Aparajith stitched together a 175-run stand for the second wicket, setting India well on the way to victory. A hasty shot led to Aparajith's fall as he missed out on a century by ten runs. It was a crucial wicket because thereafter, one batsman after another was dismissed in quick succession. India lost Vijay Zol, Akshdeep Nath and Sanju Samson, the cream of the middle order as the initial confidence gave way to uncertainty and Pakistan seized the opening.
It made for an incredible finale. Boundaries followed wickets, with Chand the only recognised batsman at the crease. It came down to five runs needed from just three balls when Chand (121) was sent back by Ehsan Adil. Kalaria scored a boundary off the very next ball to tie the scores. India needed one run from one ball but Kalaria's mistimed drive was pouched at mid-off.
In the morning, Aslam continued his terrific form in the tournament, leading the Pakistan innings with a fine century. Pakistan lost Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq with just 62 on the board but in Umar Waheed, Aslam found an able ally. While Waheed held his end up, Sami did the scoring, making 134 with three sixes and thirteen fours.
Waheed missed out on a half-century by two runs, becoming Vikash Mishra's only victim. Mohammad Nawaz followed him as did Saad Ali, but it was Aslam's dismissal immediately thereafter that was key. Kalaria bowled Aslam for the second of his five wickets, and after losing their main scoring option, Pakistan fell like a pack of cards, much like India did later. Up until then, reaching 300 looked a real possibility. However, Kalaria accounted for the middle and lower orders, claiming the scalps of Ehsan Adil, Salman Afridi and Azizullah.
Both innings followed a similar pattern as India too began strongly before losing their way towards the end, leading to the first ever tie in the final in U-19 Asia Cup history.
Brief Scores: Pakistan U-19: 282 for 9 (Sami Aslam 134, Umar Waheed 48; Rush Kalaria 5 for 37) tied with India U-19: 282 for 8 (Unmukt Chand 121, B Aparajith 90; Mohammad Nawaz 3 for 45, Ehsan Adil 3 for 68)