Pakistan ‘A’ won the 2023 Emerging Men’s Asia Cup title for the second straight time after thumping India ‘A’ by 128 runs in the final at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium here on Sunday.
Pakistan ‘A’ had suffered a comprehensive eight-wicket defeat to India ‘A’ in the group stage. But on Sunday, they managed to turn the tables in the title clash, thanks to Tayyab Tahir’s blistering 108 off 71 balls, laced with 12 fours and four sixes.
Tahir’s magnificent century, along with fifties by openers Saim Ayub and Sahibzada Farhan in a 121-run opening partnership, propelled Pakistan ‘A’ to a mammoth 352 for eight in 50 overs. In reply, India ‘A’ were all out for 224 in 40 overs, with Abhishek Sharma top-scoring with 61 off 51 balls.
Pushed into batting first, things went right for Pakistan ‘A’, with a playing eleven having eight players with senior international experience as Ayub hit 59 off 51 balls while Farhan made 65 off 62 balls in a steady opening stand.
But India ‘A’, playing with largely young emerging players, bounced back as left-arm spinner Manav Suthar had Ayub caught behind while Farhan was run out by captain Yash Dhull. The slide continued for Pakistan ‘A’ as Omair Yousuf and Qasim Akram were taken out by Riyan Parag, while skipper Mohammad Haris was trapped lbw by Nishant Sindhu.
From 187 for five, Tahir, who made his T20I debut earlier this year, put on a rocking show of stroke play to rattle the India ‘A’ bowlers, especially the spin trio of Suthar, Sindhu and Abhishek. He put on a stand of 126 runs with Mubasir Khan (35) for the sixth wicket.
Though India ‘A’ bounced back at the fag end of the innings as Pakistan ‘A’ went from 313 for five to 332 for eight, Mohammad Wasim Jr. smashed 17 runs off ten deliveries to take Pakistan past 350.
In reply, Abhishek and B. Sai Sudarshan had a 64-run opening partnership, before the latter top-edged a catch to the keeper off Arshad Iqbal.
Nikin Jose fell to Wasim Jr after being caught behind by the keeper, but the batter felt there wasn’t any edge and was left unhappy by the decision. Abhishek and Dhull (39) tried to resurrect India’s chase, but after the former fell to Sufiyan Muqeem, wickets fell in quick succession and India ‘A’ ended at 224 all out.
Pakistan ‘A’ 352/8 in 50 overs (Tayyab Tahir 108, Sahibzada Farhan 65; Riyan Parag 2-24, Rajvardhan Hangargekar 2-48) beat India A 224 all out in 40 overs (Abhishek Sharma 61, Yash Dhull 39; Sufiyan Muqeem 3-66, Mohammad Wasim Jr. 2-26) by 128 runs