Sunday brought a mixture of good and bad news for Indian cricket. In the senior’s third T20 match at Vishakhapatnam, Ravichandran Ashwin spun the Sri Lankans out of the match as India recorded an emphatic 9-wicket victory. Despite losing Pune’s first ODI, India won the second ODI at Ranchi on Friday and Sunday’s one-sided show gave them a 2-1 series win. However at Dhaka’s under-19 World Cup final on the same day, tournament favorites India lost because of poor batting. West Indies elicited a solid advantage by scuttling out India for 145 and reached the victory target after losing 5 wickets for 77. The sixth wicket pair of Keacy Carty and Keemo Paul remained unbeaten till the end as West Indies won by 5 wickets. In whatever manner the victory came for the West Indies, India lost its chance to win the U-19 World Cup for the fourth time after Unmukt Chand led the 2012 Indian U-19 team to victory against hosts Australia.
After losing the first ODI at Pune, India attained parity by beating Sri Lanka at Ranchi. At Vishakhapatnam, MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to bowl first. The decision paid off instantly with R Ashwin taking the new ball and sending both openers back in the first over. Six balls later, Ashwin came back to claim Dinesh Chandimal and when the ace spinner bowled his third over, he removed Asela Gunaratne and Sri Lanka reeled at 20/4 in the 4th over. From there, Sri Lanka could never lift themselves up and kept losing wickets. R Ashwin’s 4/8 broke Sri Lanka’s back and literally laid a path for India’s ultimate victory. Among falling wickets, only Dasun Shanaka offered some resistance with a 24-ball 19 with Thisara Perera being the only other Sri Lankan to reach double figures as India bowled out the visitors for 82 in 18 overs.
If Sri Lanka hoped to pay back India on the strength of their own bowling, their dream lasted only until Rohit Sharma’s wicket in the 6th over. Thereafter, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane batted nonchalantly since the target of 83 never looked beyond India’s reach. They neither needed to hurry nor found any menace in the bowling. India finished in style even before the onset of the 14th over and came up with one of their biggest drubbing of Sri Lanka in a T-20 game. It was Sri Lanka’s lowest score in T-20 and India’s 9-wicket victory helped them retain their no. 1 spot in T-20 world rankings. Man-of-the Match Ashwin improved his own 4/11 record by finishing with 4/8.
In faraway Dhaka, Indian Under-19 squad didn’t have the same luck as their seniors at Vishakhapatnam. The boys were playing the final of 2016 U-19 World Cup against West Indies and after their creditable performance throughout the tournament, India looked every bit the favorites to win. India batted first after West Indies’ skipper Shimron Hetmyer won the toss and chose to field. Going by their batting record in the tournament, India were expected to mount a challenging total but that is precisely, where they lost the initiative. Losing two wickets by the third over and two more by 15th sent India went into a tizzy at 41/4. They now needed someone to rescue them and the only man, who attempted that was Sarfaraz Khan. However, there was no way Sarfaraz could prevent his colleagues at the other end from committing errors. Sarfaraz had a creditable batting performance throughout the tournament and to his credit, he added 37 with Mahipal Lomror for 6th wicket. But once Lomror departed, Sarafarz got desperate. After making an 83-ball 51, Sarfaraz fell in trying to break the shackles. After Sarfaraz’s departure, India’s innings ended at 145 all out in 46th over.
146 for victory was not a big deal for West Indies but India nearly succeeded in making a match out of it. The victory chase began with hiccups as West Indies could make only 5 by 3rd over and lost opener Gidron Pope. However, Tevin Imlach and captain Shimron Hetmyer steadied the innings somewhat with a 22-run second-wicket stand. After Imlach fell, Hetmyer found good company in Keacy Carty and the two carried the score to 67 by the 23rd over, before Hetmyer fell. Left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar’s three wickets made West Indies’ totter at 77/5. Now India had their chance to bounce back. However after the 29th over, Keacy Carty and Keemo Paul played safe, scored when possible and avoided any adventurous strokes. Carty got a life, when Sarfaraz Khan dropped him off Dagar and the batsman made most of that opportunity. As Carty and Paul put their heads down in a slow progress towards the victory target, Indian fielders began making avoidable errors. Carty was dropped again, this time by Rishabh Pant and India’s chances diminished. With West Indies needing 9 of 12 balls, Paul was dropped by Avesh Khan. That effectively sealed India’s fate as West Indies reached the target with 3 balls left to win the 2016 U-19 World Cup by 5 wickets.