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U-19 World Cup: Australia trounce Afghanistan to enter final

Source: PTI
January 29, 2018 17:22 IST
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Three-time champions end Afghanistan’s fairy-tale run by six wickets; will meet winner of India-Pakistan semi-final in Tauranga on February 3.

Jack Edwards

IMAGE: Opener Jack Edwards led Australia’s march into the Under-19 World Cup final with a solid half-century against Afghanistan in the first semi-final, in Christchurch, on Monday. Photograph: ICC/Getty Images

Australia sauntered into the ICC Under-19 World Cup final by dashing Afghanistan's dream run with a six-wicket victory, built around Jack Edwards's half-century after some splendid bowling, in at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch, on Monday.

Electing to bat, the strife-torn nation, put up a modest 181, which was never going to be enough for the three-time champions.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Ikram Ali Khil resisted the Australian attack with a brave 80 off 119 balls, helping his side put on board something to fight for.

Australia had no trouble in knocking off the required runs, with opener Edwards producing a solid 72-run knock at the top.

They won with 75 balls to spare.

Off-spinner Mujeeb Zadran, picked up by IPL franchisee Kings XI Punjab for the next edition of the Twenty20 tournament, had provided an early breakthrough by dismissing opener Max Bryant (4), but Australia had a more than able line-up to handle Afghanistan’s challenge.

Captain Jason Singha (26) was caught and bowled by leg-spinner Qais Ahmed after a good start and Jonathan Merlo (17) also got out cheaply after getting his eye in, but by that time they needed less than 60 runs.

Ahmad denied Edwards a century by cleaning him up and it was the pair of Pawan Uppal (32) and Nathan McSweeney (22) that took the side to finish line.

They added 53 runs in their unbeaten fifth-wicket partnership.

Ikram Ali Khil

IMAGE: Wicketkeeper-batsman Ikram Ali Khil resisted the Australian attack with a brave 80 off 119 balls. Photograph: ICC/Getty Images

Earlier, Afghanistan struggled to create steady partnerships. Ali Khil held the one end tight with his fighting 80-run knock, which came off 119 balls and eight boundaries, but did not get support from the other end.

Seven Afghani batsmen could not manage double-digit scores as pacer Jonathan Merlo ran through the middle order.

After Khil, the biggest contribution came from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who scored 20 off 37 balls.

Merlo accounted for four batsmen and conceded just 24 runs in his 10-over quota while his pace colleague Zak Evans scalped two batsmen for 26 runs.

Australia will now take on the winner of Tuesday’s semi-final between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.

Brief scores:

Afghanistan: 181 all out in 48 overs.(I A Khil 80, R Gurbaz 29; J Merlo 4/24, Z Evans 2/26).

Australia: 182 for 4 in 37.3 overs.(J Edwards 72, P Uppal 32 not out; Q Ahmad 2/35).

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