India U23s march into Emerging Teams Cup finale
After suffering a shock defeat at the hands of Afghanistan on Thursday, the India U23s bounced back to thrash UAE and book a place in the finals of the ACC Emerging Teams Cup at Singapore on Friday. Defending a modest total of 208, the Indians did exceedingly well to register a 46-run victory with a splendid bowling performance.
India U23s won the toss and elected to bat first, banking on their opening batsmen to set the tone in a crucial semi-final contest. However, opener Unmukt Chand (0) fell in the 1st over, pegging India on the backfoot from the onset. But the in-form KL Rahul (43) stood tall to put runs on the board, adding 94 for the 2nd wicket with Manprit Juneja (76).
Ankit Bawne (23) and Ashok Menaria (30) played important knocks to hold the middle-order together, while others failed to make big scores. The UAE bowlers were spot on with off-spinner Nasir Aziz (5/51) and Mohammad Naveed (3/37) doing the bulk of the work and restricting India to 208 in 49.5 overs.
The UAE batsmen had a similar start to that of India. They lost opener Amjad Khan (8) early, but Shaiman Anwar (44) and Swapnil Patil (41) put up a brilliant 89-run 2nd wicket stand to keep UAE in the game. At one stage, they appeared to be well on-course for a big win. Akshar Patel (4/29) had other plans though as he struck with 3 quick wickets, two of which came in the same over. The UAE middle-order collapsed to shift the momentum in favour of the Indians. UAE were stumbling at 105/5 when Sandeep Sharma (2/31) and Baba Aparajith (2/25) inflicted further damage on the tail, eventually wrapping up their innings for 162.
An enthralling climax is on the cards as India U23s take on arch rivals Pakistan U23s in the tournament finale at Singapore on Sunday.