If India Under-19’s primary aim was to tick all the boxes in their first practice game against Sri Lanka Under-19 while building up to the ICC U-19 World Cup, they would have been disappointed with how the match transpired at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday (February 10).
The batsmen failed to build their innings and the bowlers failed to provide early breakthroughs as Sri Lanka registered a five-wicket win, chasing down India’s 209 all out in 48.5 overs. More than the defeat, the manner of it would have left the Indian think tank with a few worries going into their next warm-up game against South Africa on Wednesday.
That India managed to get to 209 before being bowled out in 45.5 overs was largely because of the ninth-wicket stand of 51 runs between Deepak Hooda and Aamir Gani, who came together with the side 141 for 8.
Though Kuldeep Yadav and Sarfaraz Khan picked up five wickets between them in a short spell of play, the total was too little for India to defend. Sadeera Samarawickrama, leading the side in the absence of Kusal Mendis, made a fluent 82 as Sri Lanka chased down the target with seven balls to spare.
After India elected to bat, Ankush Bains and Akhil Herwadkar, the openers, raised the fifty-run stand in quick time, taking a particular liking to Hashan Vimarshana’s right-arm medium-pace. Herwadkar’s punchy pull for the first six of the match caught the attention of all those who had turned up to watch the action.
However, the association didn’t last long as Binura Fernando brought Sri Lanka right back into the game with two wickets in the seventh over. Bains was bowled and then Herwadkar edged an outswinger to be caught behind.
Vijay Zol and Sanju Samson – India’s most experienced pair – then came together, raising hopes of India’s innings being built around their efforts. However, Samson dragged a delivery from Anuk Fernando on to his stumps when he was on 10, and Zol, who hardly got his feet moving despite hitting four fours, was lazy while executing a flick shot off the same bowler to be caught behind.
After Anuk’s twin strikes, India imploded as Sri Lanka applied additional pressure by setting an attacking field. Hashen Ramanayake yorked Ricky Bhui and Sarfaraz Khan was done in by a faster delivery from Harsha Rajapaksha. Shreyas Iyer, who had played a composed knock, failed to keep a cut shot down and was snapped up at gully.
Sri Lanka would have liked to wrap up the innings quickly, but Hooda and Gani kept the scoreboard ticking to lend some respectability to the Indian innings. The standout feature in their partnership was Hooda’s willingness to put his head down and not go for his shots till the 41st over when he hit a six over midwicket.
Binura was Sri Lanka’s best bowler, bowling very close to the stumps and using his height to generate good bounce. He returned to dismiss Gani and Hooda and finish with figures of 4 for 42.
With a smallish target to chase on a flat track, Samarawickrama and Hashan Dumindu could afford to see off Chama Milind and Avesh Khan, both of whom bowled well without much luck, before the spinners were introduced.
The pair, who put on 125 runs, were methodical in their approach and went about building their stand without much fuss. That India dropped at least two easy catches and were sloppy in their ground-fielding only added to their woes.
Finally, in the 30th over Yadav bowled Dumindu for 48. That triggered a mini-collapse as Yadav then trapped Minod Bhanuka in front of the wicket and had Samarawickrama stumped.
Priyamal Perera and Thilaksha Sumanasiri counter attacked in a 33-run stand before Sarfaraz took two wickets in two balls.
In the end, India managed to pull things back and take the game into the penultimate over, but that would not have been their objective at the start of the game.
Brief Scores: India Under-19 209 in 45.5 overs (Ankush Bains 24, Akhil Herwadkar 29, Vijay Zol 25, Shreyas Iyer 31, Deepak Hooda 39; Binura Fernando 4-42, Harsha Rajapaksha 2-22) lost to Sri Lanka Under-19 212/5 in 48.5 overs (Sadeera Samarawickrama 82, Hashan Dumindu 48, Priyamal Perera 50 n.o; Kuldeep Yadav 3-25, Sarfaraz Khan 2-30) by five wickets.