Afghanistan falls in semis of U19 World Cup

AP
Australia cruised into the final of the Under-19 World Cup with an easy six-wicket win over Afghanistan at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Monday.
AP

Australia ended Afghanistan's inspiring run at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup with a six-wicket win in the semifinals on Monday.

Afghanistan thrilled its fans at home, and captured the attention of the cricket world when, by winning its three group matches then outclassing hosts New Zealand by 202 runs in a one-sided quarterfinal.

At the start of a year in which Afghanistan will play its first official test — against India in June — a young group of Afghan players led by England-born national coach Andy Moles showed their nation has a promising long-term future in the sport.

But hopes that Afghanistan might go on and reach a first World Cup final, were ended on Monday by a clinical Australia team.

After making 309-6 against New Zealand, Afghan's batsmen struggled against a varied Australia attack and were bowled out for 181 in 48 overs at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Ikram Ali Khil made a superb 80, batting at first drop, and tried to rally his teammates around him. But only three other batsmen reached double figures: Rhamanullah Gurbaz who made 20 at the top of the order, Nisar Wahdat who made 11 and tailender Mujeeb Zadran who made 12.

Australia's new ball bowlers Ryan Hadley and Zac Evans put the Afghan batsmen under pressure, preventing them from building any momentum. Evans took 2-26 from nine overs and Hadley 1-17 from seven.

Medium pacer Jonathan Merlo, the sixth bowler used by Australia, took 4-24 from his 10 overs and leg-spinner Lloyd Pope, who took eight wickets in Australia's quarterfinal win over England, finished with 1-34 from six overs.

Opener Jack Edwards put Australia on the way to its winning target with 72 from 65 balls, which included eight fours and two sixes. Param Uppal made 32 and Nathan McSweeney 22 in an unbroken partnership of 53 for the fifth wicket which carried Australia to victory in the 38th over.

"We did a bit of research on their spinners and thought it'd be a good idea to take the game to them," Edwards said. "Try to get them before they get us.

"The pitch was pretty slow, probably gave us a bit of time to read the spin, which helped."

Australia will face the winner of Tuesday's second semifinal between India and Pakistan.

AFP

Australia's Jack Edwards is clean bowled as Afghanistan wicketkeeper Ikram Ali Khil reacts during their U19 World Cup semifinal at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand, on January 29, 2018.

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