SHARJAH - India skipper Vijay Zol (100) and Sanju Samson (100) scored contrasting centuries as India colts posted a comprehensive 40-run win over arch-rivals Pakistan to clinch the Under-19 Asia Cup title, on Saturday. While Zol's knock came off 120 balls laced with seven fours and two sixes, Samson took just 87 deliveries for his ton that included eight boundaries and four sixes, to help India reach 314 for eight in their allotted 50 overs.
In reply, Pakistan could reach 274 for nine, despite a fighting ton from Kamran Ghulam (102 not out; 89b, 12X4s). Put in to bat, India got off to a solid start with openers -- Ankush Bains (47) and Akhil Herwadkar (12) -- putting on 65 runs in 6.4 overs for the opening wicket.
It was medium pacer Zia-ul-Haq who got the first breakthrough for Pakistan by removing Herwadkar, while leg-spinner Karamat Ali dismissed Bains to reduce India to 85 for two.
However, Zol and Samson joined hands to share a massive 180-run partnership for the third wicket to give India the upper hand. The two batsmen kept on rotating the strike well by taking singles, but punished any loose deliveries that came their way to frustrate the Pakistani bowlers.
Karamat finally broke the partnership when he saw off Zol, who mistimed a shot and lofted it to Zafar Gohar at mid-on. But Samson took the revenge by hitting Karamat for two consecutive sixes in the next two deliveries. He, however, failed to sustain for long and got out a couple of overs later.
But by the time Samson departed, India were comfortably placed at 286 for four in 44.1 overs. For Pakistan, Zafar Gohar (2-52), Zia-ul-Haq (2-56) and Karamat (2-78) took two wickets each, while Kamran Ghulam chipped in with one. Chasing a massive target, Pakistan faltered from the very beginning, losing Mohammad Umair (17), Imam-ul-Haq (18), Hasan Raza (1) and Saifullah Khan (3) cheaply, to be reeling at 88 for four.
But opener Sami Aslam played a sensible knock and held on to his ground even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end. Leading from the front, skipper Aslam finally found an able support in Kamran Ghulam and the two put on a solid 93-run stand together for the fifth wicket to keep Pakistan's chances alive.
Aamir Gani managed to break the dangerous partnership by dismissing Aslam for a well-made 87 off 96 balls, studded with 10 boundaries. Ghulam, however, showed a lot of character as he continued to play aggressively, scoring at better than a run-a-ball. But unfortunately he kept running out of partners at the other end and it was a matter of time before Pakistan ran out of their allotted 50 overs, falling short by a huge margin.
Kuldeep Yadav was the pick of the Indian bowlers with figures of three for 72, while Deepak Hooda (2-37), Gani (2-39) and Chama Milind (2-44) claimed two wickets each. Last year also the same two teams made the finals but the match ended in a tie, and the trophy was shared by the arch-rivals.