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Recent Match Report – Pakistan A vs India A Final 2023

Pakistan A 352 for 8 (Tayyab 108, Farhan 65, Parag 2-24, Hangargekar 2-48) beat India A 224 (Abhishek 61, Dhull 39, Muqeem 3-66, Wasim 2-26) by 128 runs

Tayyab Tahir, a seasoned 29-year-old batter, and Sufiyan Muqeem, a rookie left-arm wristspinner, combined to help Pakistan A beat India A and defend their ACC Men’s Emerging Cup crown in Colombo.

Tayyab, for whom it has already been a dream year, added another chapter to his 2023 fairytale. He started with a dazzling half-century on PSL debut for Karachi Kings in February and made his T20I debut against Afghanistan in March. Four months on, he struck an aggressive 71-ball 108 to power Pakistan A to 352 for 8 after they were sent in to bat by Yash Dhull, on what he felt was a dry surface.

Then, with India A’s chase in the balance, Muqeem, who made his List A debut earlier in the tournament, made a telling contribution with his ripping wrong’uns from the over-the-wicket angle. That he mixed it up with sharp legbreaks added to India A’s challenge and they folded for 224 in 40 overs.

That the game fizzled out towards the end was because Muqeem prized out the massive scalps of Abhishek Sharma, India’s top scorer with 61, and Dhull, for 39, to crack open the game in Pakistan’s favour. Muqeem finished with figures of 3 for 66 in his ten overs, thriving on support from fellow spinners Mubasir Khan and Mehran Mumtaz.

The Pakistan team management did not play Muqeem in the league game against India, possibly to shield him from the batters’ view. In the grand finale, they were caught unawares by a supremely talented spinner who made heads turn with his control and guile, seldom taking the defensive route, not even when he was under attack early on by Abhishek.

India’s lower order hung around to try and challenge the bowlers in a late effort to take the game deep, but at 194 for 8, they were merely delaying the inevitable. Mohammad Wasim fittingly finished the game off with a searing yorker to send Yuvrajsinh Dodiya’s stumps.

The win would be all the more satisfying for Pakistan, not least because they were handed a pounding by India A in the league fixture. Tayyab, who like Muqeem did not play in that game, walked in at 146 for 2 in the 22nd over after openers Sahibzada Farhan and Saim Ayub put together an aggressive century stand to lay down the marker.

But he soon saw Omair Yousuf and Qasim Akram fall off successive deliveries to Riyan Parag’s right-arm everything in the 28th over. Then in the 29th, when Mohammad Haris, the captain, was trapped lbw by Nishant Sindhu’s left-arm spin, Pakistan A had lost 3 for 4 in ten deliveries.

At 187 for 5, India A had just found their footing and were beginning to tighten the screws courtesy their spinners. This is when Tayyab decided he wasn’t going to let the game drift. At the first sign of the Indians switching off, he cashed in. What began as a burst of aggression turned into a full-blown counterattack.

Tayyab had a slice of luck when he was dropped on 51 in the 37th over when Rajvardhan Hangargekar circled around a ball he misjudged at the long-on boundary. That was the only blemish in a knock where he showcased oodles of maturity in manipulating the fields, milking runs, throwing bowlers off their lengths and also playing some cheeky reverse paddles, all without making it look like he was taking risks.

He was superbly supported by Mubasir, who occupied the crease to help the lower order rally. Without their 126-run seventh-wicket stand, Pakistan A may have been bundled out for a much smaller score.

India A’s chase began on a sprightly note as Abhishek and Sai Sudharsan played authentic shots and matched each other stroke for stroke in an enterprising first ten overs. Sudharsan’s wristwork was particularly impressive as he whipped and worked the ball to different parts of the leg side with ease, but his undoing was an Arshad Iqbal short ball that he couldn’t quite get out of the way of, top-edging a pull to the wicketkeeper to break a 64-run opening stand.

Nikin Jose was a tad unfortunate to be given out caught behind when replays confirmed the ball had brushed his right hip on the way through to the wicketkeeper. Dhull steadied the innings but found no support once Abhishek was out playing an uppish cut to Muqeem.

Pakistan A profited from having the crafty Mubasir operate from the other end and he struck with the big wicket of Sindhu, who was promoted up the order. Mubasir got the ball to dip on Sindhu, who popped a return catch. When Dhruv Jurel and Parag followed suit, the end was night.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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