The spinners tried hard, but lack of runs, poor fielding and too many loose deliveries from the seamers meant that Pakistan Under-23 failed to stop Sri Lanka Under-23 from registering a nervy five-wicket win in the final of the Asian Cricket Council’s Emerging Teams Cup at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Monday (April 3).
Chasing 134 after Pakistan had been dismissed for 133 in 42.1 overs, Sri Lanka reached their target in 23.5 overs. After Sadeera Samarawickrama (45) became the fifth wicket to fall, Kithuruwan Vithanage and Wanidu Hasaranga completed the job with an unbroken stand of 36 runs.
Sri Lanka’s dominance started in the fifth over of the match after they were asked to field. Imran Butt failed to connect with a short delivery and was caught on the pull by Chamika Karunaratne at fine-leg to give Asitha Fernando his first wicket. Hussain Talat played a loose drive off Karunaratne to be caught behind in the sixth over, and de Silva took a diving catch at backward point to send Haris Sohail back in the eighth over. Then a tentative Bilal Asif poked at a slower ball from Lahiru Samarakoon to give Samarawickrama his second of three dismissals behind the stump.
With Pakistan tottering at 42 for 4 in 11.5 overs, Mohammad Rizwan and Khushdil Shah got together to resurrect the innings with a stand of 32 runs – the biggest in the innings. Then came Shehan Jayasuriya, the offspinner, to derail Pakistan with three wickets in four overs.
Rizwan (26) and Shah (20) missed the line of delivery to be bowled, while Karunaratne ran a fair distance from mid-on to his right and then dived to catch Zafar Gohar, as Pakistan became 85 for 7.
Usama Mir’s 26 from No.9 took Pakistan to 132 before he lost his stumps to a slog against de Silva in the 41st over. Pakistan lost their next two wickets without adding a single run on the board, failing to play out their quota of overs. They missed the services of an injured Imam-ul-Haq, the opener who was their best batsman with 238 runs, which included two centuries.
Jayasuriya, who finished with 3 for 22, was the Man of the Match.
Pakistan did not help their cause by giving away many easy boundaries at the start of Sri Lanka’s innings even though they picked up a wicket before the dinner break.
Resuming their innings at 33 for 1, Sri Lanka continued to march on through Samarawickrama, who was not scared of playing through the line for his eight fours. Jayasuriya, Charith Asalanka and Angelo Perera, the captain, fell playing rash strokes, but Pakistan never had the runs on the board to make a match of it despite the pitch offering good turn to the spin duo of Gohar and Mir.
When Samarawickrama pulled Mir from outside off stump to be caught at mid-on in the 16th over, it looked like there was a twist in the tale. Pakistan though, were never able to keep a check on either Vithanage or de Silva, both of whom benefitted from sloppy work in the in-field.
Congratulations Sri Lanka for winning Max Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2017. pic.twitter.com/6MPzv5rKTC
— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) April 3, 2017
“We played well in the tournament, the pitch was good but our batsmen made mistakes early on so we could not reach the target we had set,” said Rizwan, Pakistan’s captain, at the post-match presentation. “We are sad we lost, but we played well throughout the tournament.”
Perera, the Sri Lankan skipper, said the bowlers stuck to their plans. “We were looking at restricting the opponent to something below 200. The bowlers stuck to their plan,” he said. “We panicked a bit in the chase, the batters could have done a bit better but we are happy that we won the tournament.”
Asalanka, who had earned a lot of popularity as Sri Lanka’s captain at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, was the player of the series for scoring 338 runs, which included a century and three fifties.