India U19, Kuwait U19, U19 Asia Cup
Arjun Azad with former India captain Rahul Dravid. @ Facebook/Arjun Azad

India U19 had Arjun Azad to thank after his 58-ball unbeaten 60 led the defending champions to a thumping seven-wicket win over Kuwait U19 in the series opening Group A match of the Under-19 Asia Cup in Colombo on Thursday.

Chasing 111 after the match was reduced to 23 overs due to immense rain at the Colombo Cricket Ground, India reached the target in 19.1 overs incurring three wickets in the process. Suved Parkar was the first to depart after he fell to opposition captain Abdul Sadiq for 14 in the eighth over. Nehal Wadhera (18) and captain Dhruv Jurel (12) gave Azad, who looked solid during his stay the crease. The Punjab teen’s innings was decorated with five boundaries and two sixes.

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Earlier, after being put into bat, Kuwait U19 began well with openers Meet Bhavsar and Gokul Kumar forging 54 runs for the opening wicket. The partnership was broken in the 16th over by Akash Singh after Bhavsar edged one behind to wicketkeeper Jorel and departed for 28 off 41 – his innings laced with three boundaries and the solitary six.

Bhavsar’s partner Kumar didn’t waste much time to follow his partner back in the dugout falling to Purnank Tyagi for 25 off 56. Kumar’s dismissal triggered a collapse and Kuwait went from 82/3 in the 20th over to 110 in the 23rd over.

Akash Singh and Tyagi were the main orchestrators of that collapse with the duo pocketing three wickets apiece. Akash went for 22 runs in his five overs, while Tyagi was expensive, going for 28 in his four overs.

In the other match of the day, Afghanistan U19 defeated Pakistan U19 by 85 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

India U19 next face arch-rivals Pakistan U19 on September 7 (Saturday) at the Tyronne Fernando Stadium in Moratuwa.

Brief scores: India U19 114/3 in 19.1 overs (Arjun Azad 60*) beat Kuwait U19 110/7 in 23 overs (Meet Bhavsar 28, Gokul Kumar 25; Akash Singh 3/22, Purnank Tyagi 3/28) by 7 wickets