In their opening match of the ICC U-19 World Cup in Bloemfontein on Saturday, the reigning champions of India defeated Bangladesh by 84 runs thanks to a commanding performance from left-arm spinners Saumy Kumar Pandey and Musheer Khan.
Although 251 for 7 may not seem like a large score, the two Indian spinners choked off the run flow, dismissing the ‘Tiger Cubs’ for a pitiful 167 in 45.5 overs.
Bangladesh invited the holders to take the first stroke, and both captain Uday Saharan (64 off 94 balls) and left-handed opener Adarsh Singh (76 off 96 balls) scored half-centuries.
All-rounder Musheer (2/35) tossed it up and got enough drift to tighten the noose around Bangladeshi hitters, while Saumy (4/24) was economical and bowled the deadly arm ball with a skiddy action.
The target was never below par, despite the Indian batters’ struggles to get boundaries. At this stadium, teams batting first in Youth ODIs (U-19 ODI) averaged 201, with 243 being the highest successful chase.
During the last overs, Sachin Dhas, the team’s designated finisher, displayed excellent technique and calm with a lovely little undefeated cameo of 26 off 20 balls that carried the score past the 250-run barrier. The sight of seamen Rohanat Doullah Borson, dragged six off, was breathtaking.
This is the case even though they gave Bangladeshi bowlers 26 overs’ worth of dot balls to bowl during their innings.
Maruf Mridha (5/43), a left-arm seamer, caused havoc early in the innings and during the slog overs by bowling in the correct places, but he was a little irritated with his captain for making an incorrect calculation and preventing him from finishing his allotted ten overs.
Maruf, who bowled closer to stumps in the beginning and mixed cutters and wide yorkers at the end to make life difficult for the India colts, had a skilful motion similar to that of Mustafizur Rahaman.
With Adarsh hitting six fours and Saharan hitting just four, the two spinners made sure the set hitters couldn’t get away. Even though Indian hitters only managed two sixes and 14 boundaries in 50 overs, it was still plenty in the end.