Tayyab Tahir's exceptional hundred garnished Pakistan A's march to a commanding 128-run win over India A, for a second consecutive Emerging Teams Asia Cup title, here on Sunday.
Once Pakistan posted a mammoth 352 for eight courtesy Tahir's 108 off 71 balls (12x4s, 4x6s), the result was in no real doubt. India made a fist of it, but, ended up at 224 all out in 40 overs to suffer their first defeat in this tournament.
From the toss, everything went south for India, who asked Pakistan to bat first, a decision which was a tad puzzling, because the chasing team had lost eight matches in the tournament.
However, Pakistan A, who fielded as many as eight players with international experience, was in mood to give a return gift to India A, who fielded a purely U-23 side with no experience of top-flight cricket.
Pakistan went off the blocks like a supercharged car, scoring over six runs and the run-rate subsequently crossed the seven-runs per-over mark. Openers Saim Ayub (59 off 51 balls) and Sahibzada Farhan (65 off 62 balls) added 121 runs in just 17.2 overs, fully utilising a fresh surface and hardball.
Just as Pakistan seemed to have got a measure of Indian bowlers, they stormed into the match. Left-arm spinner Manav Suthar took his 11th wicket of the tournament when he jettisoned Ayub.
In the next 11-over passage, they gave away 66 runs but plucked 4 wickets as Pakistan slumped to 187 for 5. Leg-spinner Riyan Parag too chipped in as he took two wickets in as many balls, dismissing Omair Yousuf and Qasim Akram.
However, Tahir quelled India's hopes of bundling out Pakistan early with an innings of rare quality. Around the 30th over, the ball began to slightly grip the surface but Tahir played through the line, exhibiting timing and power.
India's success in this tournament was built around their spin troika of Suthar, Nishant Sindhu and Abhishek Sharma, but Tahir invalidated their presence with a fine array of shots.
The right-hander, who made his Pakistan senior team debut earlier this year, played cuts, drives, pulls and ramps at will to bring up a 66-ball 100.
He found an able sidekick in Mubasir Khan while milking 126 runs for the sixth wicket in just 16 overs, as they ran roughshod over Indian bowlers. The partnership also carried Pakistan past 300.
India did not seem perturbed by the massiveness of the target as B. Sai Sudarshan and Abhishek amassed 64 runs for the opening wicket in 8.3 overs. Pacer Arshad Iqbal broke the alliance, inducing an edge from Sudarshan for Mohammad Haris to complete an easy catch behind the stumps.
Abhishek completed a fifty (61, 51 balls) but once he departed, the rest of the Indian batters struggled to cope with the ever-mounting asking rate, perishing at regular intervals. Chinaman bowler Sufiyan Muqeem picked up three wickets to inflict maximum damage.