Deepak Hooda produced a fine all-round performance to help 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, on Monday.
Hooda sizzled with the bat smashing an unbeaten 83 and then grabbed two for 37 with his tight medium pacers to set up an easy win.
Earlier, opting to bat, the Indian colts rode Hooda's quickfire 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 did not spare a single Zimbabwe bowler during his merciless innings and 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 in 12.2 overs and then blasted 72 runs off 35 balls along with Sarfaraz to take the hosts close to the 300-run mark.
Apart from Hooda and Sarfaraz, wicket-keeper Ankush Bains contributed an useful 49 off 62 balls at the top while Shreyas Iyer (28) and skipper Vijay Zol (17) couldn't convert their starts.
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 of 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.
Brief Scores: 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).