Bloemfontein: Holders India launched their ICC Uunder-19 Cricket World Cup title defence off to a winning start with a 90-run victory over Sri Lanka in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on Sunday (January 19).

Siddhesh Veer (pictured above) was the standout as his unbeaten 44 off 27 balls helped set a challenging target, before he was one of three Indian bowlers to take two wickets as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 207.

Also read: India seal series in Bengaluru

Victory sends India straight to the top of Group A in what they will hope is the start of a successful quest to claim a record-extending fifth World Cup title.

Half-centuries from Yashasvi Jaiswal, captain Priyam Garg and Dhruv Jurel helped India post a commanding 297/4, before two wickets apiece from Akash Singh, Siddhesh Veer and Ravi Bishnoi proved crucial in dismissing their sub-continent compatriots for 207.

India lost the toss and were asked to bat first at the Mangaung Oval, with their openers setting the ideal platform as Jaiswal and Divyansh Saxena (23) combined for a 66-run partnership.

The highly-rated Jaiswal went onto record an impressive 59 off 74 balls, including eight fours, after finding another partner in Tilak Varma (46).       

After Jaiswal (pictured) was caught behind, Varma then teamed up with Garg, to put on 59 runs for the third wicket.

The latter raised his bat for a measured 56 off 72 balls to continue the defending champions’ impressive outing.

India then had Jurel’s undefeated 56 off 48 balls and Veer’s thrilling cameo of 44 off 27 deliveries (six fours, one six) to thank as they ended with a dominant total of 297 following the pair’s 63-run stand.

In the second innings, Sri Lanka needed a good start from their top order and Kamil Mishara (39) and Ravindu Rasantha (49) obliged with an 87-run, second-wicket partnership before Jaiswal (one for 18) made the breakthrough to leave them 106 for two.

Sensing a momentum shift in the game, India pressed on with the ball to take wickets at regular intervals, despite a battling 50 off 59 balls from young Lions captain, Nipun Perera.

Veer (2/34) along with Kartik Tyagi (1/27), Singh (2/29) and Bishnoi (2/44) picked up six middle and lower-order scalps, along with a run out, for just 94 runs to bowl out their opponents with 4.4 overs to spare.

Player of the match, India’s Veer, said: “I was really happy with my performance, the shots I played came off which helped me with my innings. It was a good start for the team and we are happy.”