Colombo, July 19 (IANS) Left-handed opener B Sai Sudharsan slammed a superb unbeaten century while fast-bowling all-rounder Rajvardhan Hangargekar took a brilliant five-wicket haul to lead India A to a convincing eight-wicket win over Pakistan A in their final group stage match of 2023 Emerging Men’s Asia Cup at the R Premadasa Stadium, here on Wednesday.
Pushed into bowling first, Hangargekar picked 5-42 while left-arm spinner Manav Suthar’ took 3-36 as India A bowled out Pakistan A for 205 in 48 overs.
In reply, Sudharsan, who scored a fifty in the last game, hit a composed 104 not out off 110 balls, laced with a six and 10 fours. He finished off the match with back-to-back sixes to reach his century and win the match for India A with eight wickets in hand and 80 balls to spare.
The left-hander was ably supported in a largely untroubled run-chase by top-order batter Nikin Jose, who hit seven fours in making 53 runs off 64 deliveries.
The win over Pakistan also marks a third victory on the trot for the Yash Dhull-captained India A side in Group B, who remain the only team in the tournament to remain unbeaten. They will face Bangladesh A in the second semifinal while Pakistan A will take on Sri Lanka A in the first semi-final on July 21.
Thanks to Hangargekar and Suthar making strikes, Pakistan A lost wickets at regular intervals and were reeling at 95 for six before Qasim Akram (48) and Mubasir Khan (28) got together to stitch a 53-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
After Mubasir was trapped lbw by Nishant Sindhu, Mehran Mumtaz joined Qasim to add 43 runs for the eighth wicket before the latter was dismissed by Hangargekar. The all-rounder would wipe off the tail to end up with a five-fer.
In reply, Abhishek Sharma and Sudharsan feasted on Pakistan A’s fast-bowlers to add 58 runs for the opening stand, before the former fell to Mubasir in the 12th over. Sudharsan and Jose shared a 99-run partnership which set the base for India A to chase the total very well.
Though Jose couldn’t stay till the end, Sudharsan, who used his feet well, and Dhull finished off the proceedings for India, with the latter hitting Shahnawaz Dahani for a four and two successive sixes on the first four balls of the 37th over.
“Focusing more on risk-free runs. Focusing on ones and twos, and reducing dot balls. Against spinners, it was a dicey and tricky wicket to bat. It was better to face fast bowlers. We are just reacting to the situation in front of us (in chasing over 200). It has been fantastic to play with Abhishek Sharma. I admired Abhishek when he was in the IPL and I wasn’t. I have learnt a lot from him,” said Sudharsan, who was named Player of the Match for his century.
Brief Scores: Pakistan A 205 all out in 48 overs (Qasim Akram 48, Sahibzada Farhan 35; Rajvardhan Hangargekar 5-42, Manav Suthar 3-36) lost to India A 210-2 in 36.4 overs (B Sai Sudharsan 104 not out, Nikin Jose 53; Mubasir Khan 1-45, Mehran Mumtaz 1-58) by eight wickets.