Spinner Akshar Patel did the star turn for India Under-23 as they fought their way back from a tough situation to set up a title clash with Pakistan after a 46-run win over United Arab Emirates in the semifinals of the ACC Emerging Teams Cup, here today.
In what turned out to be another low-scoring match, the Indian colts defended a modest 208 as the opposition folded for 162 runs in 48.3 overs.
19-year-old left-arm spinner Patel snared three wickets for three runs in as many overs to trigger a collapse that saw UAE folding up for 162 after being comfortably placed at 97 for one at one stage.
Patel was the pick of the Indian bowlers returning impressive figures of four for 29 in 8.3 overs at the Kallang Ground.
India had suffered a shock 28-run defeat to Afghanistan yesterday.
Manpreet Juneja (76) top-scored with the bat for India. Juneja's was a labored knock that mostly comprised running between the wickets his runs came in 121 balls with a solitary boundary in the form of a six.
After skipper Suryakumar Yadav elected to bat first, India U-23 were dealt an early blow in form of Unmukt Chand (0) in the first over. However, a 94-run stand between opener Lokesh Rahul (43) and Manpreet Juneja (76) put the innings back on course.
The UAE bowlers came back into the match with regular wickets as the Indian middle-order batsmen failed to convert their starts.
Juneja was the only Indian batsman to score a half-century as wickets tumbled around him.
UAE off-spinner, Nasir Aziz (9.5-0-51-5) was India U-23's tormentor-in-chief as after dismissing Ankit Bawne (23) and Ashok Menaria (30), he returned to clean up the tail quickly.
Aziz was wonderfully supported by Mohammad Naveed (10-1-37-3) who was both economical and among wickets.
The start to UAE's innings was identical to that of their opponents an early wicket followed by a big partnership.
When Shaiman Anwar (44) and Swapnil Patil (41) were batting together, en route their 89-run stand, it seemed like a matter of time before UAE will chase down the target. However, Patel struck twice in the 25th over and picked up another wicket in his next over to leave UAE reeling at 102 for four.
Sandeep Sharma ensured it was 105 for five soon. UAE's innings had sunk too deep in trouble to recover and eventually they fell short of their target by some way as besides Anwar and Patil none of their batsmen managed to breach the 20-run mark.
In the final, India U-23 will now meet Pakistan U-23 who defeated Sri Lanka U-23 by one wicket in the second semi-final.
Brief Score: India U-23 208 all-out in 49.5 overs (Juneja 76; Aziz 5/51) beat UAE 162 all-out in 48.3 overs (Anwar 44; Patel 4/29) by 46 runs.