Azan Awais stars with century as Pakistan overpower India in U19 Asia Cup

Left-handed batter hits unbeaten ton in eight-wicket win in Dubai

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Azan Awais struck a century to help take Pakistan to an eight-wicket victory over India in the Under-19 Asia Cup in Dubai.

The left-hander anchored the run chase with 105 not out as the side in green dominated their neighbours to claim their second win in the competition.

It was Awais’s third century in the space of eight innings for Pakistan U19s. He made 104 in a youth Test against Sri Lanka in Karachi in October, and 105 in a 50-over game in Bangladesh in May.

The Sialkot-born batter had also marked himself out as a player of great promise in his side’s opening game of the Asia Cup in Dubai.

He was not out on 55 when Pakistan sealed the win against Nepal two days earlier at the ICC Academy.

His ton against India was complemented by half-centuries from Shahzaib Khan and Saad Baig, as Pakistan made easy work of chasing 260 to win. Baig, the captain, drove a boundary to win the game, then kissed the star on his green batting helmet.

“This was a high-intensity match because it is India versus Pakistan and before the match I was feeling some pressure,” Awais said.

“Alhamdulillah I was able to make a century and this is dedicated to my country.”

Mohammed Zeeshan, the towering seam bowler, took four wickets against India, having taken six against Nepal in the opening day win two days earlier.

Baig said Pakistan’s formidable start to the competition is down to detailed planning by the side’s management.

“We have good unity and good combinations, which is why the result went our way,” Baig said.

“Our preparation and planning has been very good. Our coaches have planned from match to match and we have been able to execute it on the ground.

“We were confident we could chase that target, we just needed two or three partnerships.”

Accepted wisdom would have it that this was the junior version of the biggest game in cricket. But footfall at the ground and online traffic suggests following for cricket has spread further than expected.

The Asian Cricket Council were live-streaming two fixtures simultaneously on their YouTube channel. For the majority of the day, significantly more viewers were tuned in to the broadcast of the Afghanistan v Nepal match on the neighbouring field.

That only changed midway through the afternoon, when the wicket of Gulsan Jha more or less put paid to Nepal’s chances of chasing the 262 they needed to win.

That led to a plunge in the figures, to the point that both matches had around 55,000 viewers at the same moment. Even after that, the number of viewers returned to far outstrip the India-Pakistan game.

Something similar happened at the venue, too. A number of supporters did while away their Sunday watching India v Pakistan from the benches beside the net area behind Oval 1, a majority of whom were wearing the blue shirts of India.

But they were significantly outnumbered by fans wearing the red and blue of Nepal and waving that country’s distinctive flag, who were massed on the bank beside Oval 2.

Nepal’s fans were to be disappointed, though, as their side fell to a 73-run loss which makes their chances of progressing to the semi-final unlikely.

Jamshid Zadran retired after making a century as the Afghans were bowled out for 261 with three balls left in the last over of their 50.

Nepal could not get going in reply, despite opener Arjun Kumal being last out having made 91, as they were bowled out for 188.

The UAE will continue their push for a semi-final place when they face Sri Lanka at the ICC Academy on Monday.

Updated: December 10, 2023, 2:11 PM