Australia storm into U-19 World Cup final after defeating Afghanistan
January 29, 2018 02:05 PM NPT
SYDNEY, Jan 29: Australia have cruised into their first under-19 cricket World Cup decider in six years after easily accounting for Afghanistan in the semi-finals.
After dismissing their opponents for 181 in Christchurch, Australia survived Afghanistan's trio of spinners to reach the target in the 38th over with six wickets to spare.
Opener Jack Edwards was the star for Australia with 72 off just 65 balls, as he launched a counter attack on spinners Qais Ahmad, Zahir Khan and Mujeeb Zadran, just days after they rolled New Zealand for 107 to win the quarter-final.
"There was the danger of the mystique around their bowlers," Edwards said.
"We had the opportunity to get footage from the New Zealand game and deconstruct the different change-ups in their varieties.
"Seeing a lot of footage really helped. I thought we played them really well and picked them most the time today."
Edwards put Australia in the clear early with 10 boundaries - including two maximums - before he played on to Ahmed with Australia within sight of the target.
Param Uppal (32 not out) and Nathan McSweeney (22 not out) then guided the Aussies to victory.
Edwards's half-century was his second of the tournament and came after he claimed the key Afghan wicket of No.3 Ikram Ali Khil for 80.
"I really wanted to step up and take control of the run chase," Edwards said.
"It's been a long process getting here. A lot of work has gone into it. And we've done amazingly well to get this far."
Seamer Jonathan Merlo claimed 4-24 for the Aussies, while quick Zak Evans had two scalps as five Afghanistan batsmen found themselves either caught behind down the leg side or at fine leg.
Legspinning sensation Lloyd Pope, who claimed eight wickets in Australia's quarter-final win over England, took just the one wicket on Monday - a full-flighted wrong'un to finish with figures of 1-34 from his six overs.
Australia face the winner of Tuesday's semi-final between Pakistan and India in Saturday's final in their quest for a record fourth title.
Australia last won the under-19 title in 2010 and were runners-up two years later to India in Townsville.
They finished fourth in 2014 then skipped the 2016 tournament in Bangladesh for security reasons.
Monday's result ended a fairytale run for Afghanistan, who backed up last year's Asian Cup success with the country's first semi-final appearance in any global top-tier cricket tournament.