KL Rahul, the opener, smashed 93 not out off 107 balls to lead India Under-23 to an emphatic nine-wicket win over Pakistan Under-23 in the final of the Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup in Singapore on Sunday (August 25).
Pakistan, who chose to bat, were bowled out for 159 in 47 overs at the Kallang ground, with India taking only 33.4 overs to chase the target down and lift the title. Manprit Juneja, who hit 51 not out in an unbroken 132-run stand for the second wicket, proved an able ally for Rahul in an easy chase for India.
Pakistan had gotten off to a steady start, making 31 off the first eight overs. The Indian pace-duo of Sandeep Sharma and Sandeep Warrier then struck in consecutive overs, to leave Pakistan 34 for 2 in the after dismissing the openers . Sharma claimed the wicket of Mohammad Rizwan for 21 and Warrier followed up by getting Babar Azam caught behind for 7.
Umar Waheed and Usman Salahuddin, both right-handed batsmen, steadied the innings with a 54-run stand, but consumed 17.2 overs. Suryakumar Yadav, the India captain, then triggered a collapse when he dismissed Salahuddin for 15. Soon, Pakistan went from 88 for 3 to 107 for 9, with Baba Aparajith taking 3 for 28 with his offspin to play a lead role in the collapse.
The last-wicket pair of Usman Qadir (33) and Ehsan Adil (22) added a crucial 52 runs in 9.1 overs to give Pakistan a fighting total, but most of the Indian bowlers returned good figures. Yadav had 2 for 20 in ten overs while Sharma bowled eight overs for the same returns.
Needing a shade more than three runs per over, Rahul and Unmukt Chand started briskly to take India to 25 in five overs. Raza Hasan, the left-arm spinner, provided the much-needed breakthrough for Pakistan when he got Chand caught behind for 15 in the next over.
However, it was smooth sailing for India from then, and Hasan remained Pakistan's only wicket-taker. Rahul hit his third half-century of the tournament, comprising 11 boundaries and one six, while Juneja was solid in his 77-ball innings, as India completed an easy win with 16.2 overs to spare.
Brief scores: Pakistan U-23 159 all out in 47 overs (Umar Waheed 41, Usman Qadir 33; Sandeep Sharma 2-20, Suryakumar Yadav 2-20, Baba Aparajith 3-28) lost to India U-23 160/1 in 33.4 overs (KL Rahul 93*, Manprit Juneja 51*; Raza Hasan 1-41) by nine wickets.