Pakistan A scored 352 thanks to Tayyab’s century before Muqeem’s three-wicket haul broke India A’s back in Colombo.By 128 runs, Pakistan A 352 (Tayyab 108, Farhan 65, Parag 2-24, Hangargekar 2-48) defeated India A 224 (Abhishek 61, Dhull 39, Muqeem 3-66, Wasim 2-26).
Tayyab Tahir, a veteran 29-year-old hitter, and Sufiyan Muqeem, a rookie left-arm wristspinner, teamed to help Pakistan A defeat India A and retain their ACC Men’s Emerging Cup title in Colombo.
Tayyab, who has already had a wonderful year, has added a new chapter to his 2023 fairytale. In February, he made his PSL debut for Karachi Kings with a stunning half-century, and in March, he made his T20I debut against Afghanistan. Four months later, he hit an aggressive 71-ball 108 to force Pakistan A to 352 for 8 after Yash Dhull sent them in to bat on what he thought was a dry surface.
Then, with India A’s chase hanging in the balance, Muqeem, who made his List A debut earlier in the tournament, made a significant impact with his ripping over-the-wicket shots. The fact that he mixed it up with quick legbreaks heightened India A’s task, and they succumbed for 224 in 40 overs.
The fact that the game burned out near the finish was due to Muqeem’s enormous scalps of Abhishek Sharma, India’s leading scorer with 61, and Dhull, for 39, which broke open the game in Pakistan’s favor. Muqeem concluded his 10 overs with figures of 3 for 66, aided by fellow spinners Mubasir Khan and Mehran Mumtaz.
Muqeem was not played in Pakistan’s league game against India, possibly to keep him out of the batters’ way. They were taken off guard in the grand finals by a very brilliant spinner who made heads turn with his control and finesse, rarely taking the defensive way, even when he was under assault early on by Abhishek.
India’s bottom order stuck around late in an attempt to challenge the bowlers and extend the game, but at 194 for 8, they were only postponing the inevitable. Mohammad Wasim capped off the game with a scorching yorker that sent Yuvrajsinh Dodiya’s stumps flying.
The victory would be all the more pleasing for Pakistan, not least because they were thrashed by India A in the league match. Tayyab, who, like Muqeem, did not participate in that game, went in in the 22nd over with the score at 146 for 2 after openers Sahibzada Farhan and Saim Ayub put together an aggressive century stand to set the tone.
But, in the 28th over, he saw Omair Yousuf and Qasim Akram fall off successive deliveries to Riyan Parag’s right-arm. When Mohammad Haris, the captain, was trapped lbw by Nishant Sindhu’s left-arm spin in the 29th over, Pakistan A had lost 3 for 4 in ten deliveries.
At 187 for 5, India A had just found their footing and were tightening the screws thanks to their spinners. This is when Tayyab decided he wasn’t going to let the game slip away from him. He cashed in at the first hint of the Indians going dark. What started as a burst of anger quickly grew into a full-fledged counterattack.
Tayyab was dropped on 51 in the 37th over after Rajvardhan Hangargekar circled around a ball he misjudged at the long-on boundary. That was the only blemish on a knock in which he displayed gobs of maturity in manipulating the fields, milking runs, throwing bowlers off their lengths, and also playing some sneaky reverse paddles, all without appearing to take risks.
Mubasir, who occupied the crease to aid the lower order rally, was an excellent supporter. Without their 126-run seventh-wicket stand, Pakistan A could have been dismissed for a significantly lower total.
India A’s chase started on a high note, with Abhishek and Sai Sudharsan playing realistic shots and matching each other stroke for stroke in the opening 10 overs. Sudharsan’s wristwork was particularly good, as he whipped and manipulated the ball to various parts of the leg side with ease, but he was undone by an Arshad Iqbal short ball that he couldn’t quite get out of the way of, top-edging a pull to the wicketkeeper to end a 64-run opening stand.
When replays revealed that the ball had brushed Nikin Jose’s right hip on its way to the wicketkeeper, he was ruled out caught behind. Dhull stabilized the innings but found no help as Abhishek was caught off an uppish cut to Muqeem.
Pakistan A benefited from having Mubasir operate from the other end, and he struck with the big wicket of Sindhu, who had been moved up the order. Mubasir caused the ball to dip on Sindhu, who took a return catch. The end was near when Dhruv Jurel and Parag followed suit.