UAE get a thrashing from India in U19 Asia Cup

Home team, made up of schoolboys, unable to match their counterparts, already cricket professionals, in tournament opener. Paul Radley reports from Sharjah.

India's Akhil Herwadkar, right, top-scored with a fine hundred against the UAE at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Saturday. Kevin J Larkin for The National
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SHARJAH // The world champion age-group side, India, laid down a marker at the start of the Under 19 Asia Cup as they breezed aside the UAE in the tournament opener at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Saying a mismatch like India’s 189-run win here is like watching men against boys could be deemed a slur. It should not be, though, given the relative resources of each of the sides.

It is almost literally the case, as a number of the Indian players earn a profession from the sport already, while the UAE’s players are all schoolboys.

Some players from the extended UAE training squad had even opted out of selection on account of the fact they have important exams to study for.

By contrast Vijay Zol, India’s captain, chose to quit academia entirely and focus solely on cricket long ago.

He has already been repaid to the effect of an Indian Premier League contract, and has a first-class double-century to his name – all by the age of 19.

As if to emphasise the riches at India’s disposal, they did not even need him to make a contribution of worth here.

Sanju Samson, the Rajasthan Royals player whose presence here put a few extra backsides on seats, did play a sparkling cameo.

He made 65 from 47 deliveries before being expertly caught on the boundary rope by Chirag Suri, the UAE’s outstanding fieldsman, when going for a third successive six in the penultimate over of India’s innings of 320.

But it was one of the lesser lights who headlined this show of power for India.

Akhil Herwadkar struck his maiden century for the India under 19 side after a year of near misses, and said he was happy to make the most of a typically friendly Sharjah batting track.

“It was really good to make a century here as the batting conditions were very good,” said the opener from Mumbai.

“I haven’t been in great form so I am thankful to the support staff for helping me get this chance and I have been really looking forward to batting in this Asia Cup.”

Herwadkar acknowledged he is hoping to emulate the feats of his colleagues Zol and Samson, who are each already well regarded in Indian senior cricket.

“I am trying to become famous by focusing on my cricket,” he said. “Sanju and Vijay are great players who are already in the India A squad and I want to learn from them.”