Millennium Post

India trounce Afghans to finish on top

Led by Rishabh Pant’s fluent 118, Indian youngsters put up another spectacular performance to down Afghanistan by 104 runs and progress to the final with an all-win record in the Under-19 Triseries one-day cricket tournament here on Friday.

The chief architect of the win was Dehli left-hander Pant as his 118 from 98 balls (14x4, 4x6) propelled India to 266/7 after they were put in to bat in an inconsequential match at the Jadavpur University second campus ground in Saltlake. Pant came into the match on the back of two explosive half centuries.

After losing his opening partner for four runs in the first ball of the second over, Pant along with Jharkhand’s Virat Singh (71 from 94b; 7x4, 1x6) built the innings and gave India a solid platform with their entertaining 186-run partnership that came from 185 balls.

India lost the duo of Pant and Singh within two runs, but it was skipper Ricky Bhui, who propped up the total with his 62-ball 50 (4x4, 2x6).

In reply, the Afghans were wrapped up for 162 in 28 overs with Lucknow legspinner Zeeshan Ansari becoming the wrecker-in-chief with his 5/37 in eight overs to hand India their second bonus point win of the tournament.

Hailing from a seven-member tailor family, Zeeshan, who took up cricket six years ago on his uncle’s insistence, bowled with superb accuracy and got a breakthrough in his first over after he was introduced in the 14th over. A big fan of Aussie great Shane Warne, Zeeshan, who bowls googly with ease, claimed the wickets in successive deliveries including that of Afghan topscorer Naveed Obaid (63 from 44b; 9x3, 4x6) in the 16th over to derail their chase by restricting them to 109/6 in 15.4 overs.

Afghanistan were eventually bowled out after Zeeshan claimed his fifth victim in Zia-ur Rahman as he bowled eight overs at a stretch and finished with an impressive 5/37.

“I just kept my concentration on the line and the ball did the rest... I’m really excited at the prospect of bowling in Bangladesh where there will be similar spin-friendly wickets (during the next year’s World Cup). Hope I can contribute to the team’s cause,” Zeeshan said.
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