Deepak Hooda’s all-round performance helped the Indian Under-19 cricket team register a comprehensive 148-run win over Zimbabwe in the opening match of the Quadrangular Under-19 One-Day Series, in Visakhapatnam on Monday.
Hooda sizzled with the bat smashing an unbeaten 83 and then came back to take two for 37 with his tight medium pacers to set up an easy win.
Earlier, opting to bat, the Indian colts rode on Hooda's quick-fire knock and 15-year-old Sarfaraz Khan's run-a-ball 55 to post 291 for six in their 50 overs.
Promoted up the order at No 6, Hooda used his long handle to great effect as he clobbered Zimbabwean bowlers during his 55-ball knock, hitting five fours and an equal number of sixes in the process.
Hooda stitched two quick partnerships with Ricky Bhui (19) and Sarfaraz to take India forward.
Hooda first shared 77 runs for the fifth wicket with Bhui and then blasted 72 runs off 35 balls along with Sarfaraz, to take the hosts close to the 300-run mark.
Wicket-keeper Ankush Bains also contributed with a useful 49 off 62 balls at the top.
Right-arm pacer Kieran Geyle (3/32) was the star performer for Zimbabwe with the ball, while Luke Mafuwa Jongwe picked up two wickets giving away 59 runs.
Defending the total, Indian bowlers picked up wickets at regular intervals to bowl out Zimbabwe for a paltry 143 in 41.2 overs.
Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav picked up four wickets for 34 runs for the hosts, while Hooda (2/37), off-spinner Gani (2/37) and Sarfaraz (2/9) shared six wickets between them.
The 55-run third-wicket partnership between Ryan Burl (46) and Kieran Geyle (18) was the lone bright spot in Zimbabwe's chase.
India will play South Africa Under-19 team in their next match while Zimbabwe will be up against Australia.
Meanwhile, in another match of the series being held simultaneously, South Africa Under-19 defeated Australia Under-19 by 17 runs.
Opting to bat, South Africa could only muster 179 all out in 44 overs before bowling out the Australians for 162 in 44.2 overs.
India Under-19: 291 for six in 50 overs (Deepak Hooda 83 not out, Sarfaraz Khan 55; Kieran Geyle 3/32).
Zimbabwe Under-19: 143 all out in 41.2 overs (Ryan Burl 46; Kuldeep Yadav 4/34).
Image: Zimababwe's Malcolm Lake is bowled by India's Deepak Hooda
Photograph: Andhra Cricket Association