After a one-day break in Super Six action, the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup resumed with a triple-header on Friday, with teams vying for coveted semi-final spots.
South Africa became the first team to secure qualification into the final four with a commanding 119-run victory over Sri Lanka in Potchefstroom. Once again, Kwena Maphaka was the chief destroyer, dismantling the Islanders’ batting line-up with support from Riley Norton.
The match between West Indies and Australia was affected by rain, leading to both teams sharing one point each. Ultimately, it was Australia who secured the final qualifying spot from Group 2, while West Indies’ brilliant tournament ended in a heartbreak.
India put up a dominating display against Nepal, recording a big 132-run victory to book their place in the knockout stages. Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas were the architects of the win, recording a century each while Saumy Pandey’s four-for derailed the chase.
India beat Nepal by 132 runs in Bloemfontein
India 297/5 (50) v Nepal 165/9 (50)
Opting to bat first, India capitalised on the fresh pitch in Bloemfontein, with Adarsh Singh displaying intent from the word go. The southpaw was dealing only in boundaries, hitting four in the first four overs but was soon caught behind down leg-side by the dynamic Gulshan Jha.
Arshin Kulkarni, playing a supporting role alongside Adarsh, found his rhythm in the last over of the Powerplay with two boundaries. The partnership was ticking along nicely before confusion between the pair resulted in Priyanshu Moliya, promoted up the order for today’s game, being run out while attempting to steal a fourth run.
Arshin could not make amends either as Aakash Chand’s pace got the better of the opener who could only prod a thick outside edge into the gloves of Uttam Magar.
There was still no sign of two-time centurion Musheer Khan as India opted to experiment with their batting line-up in the final Super Six match.
Despite the top three batters failing to capitalize on their starts, captain Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas assumed the responsibility of steering the team towards a big total.
Following a period of measured play, Dhas unleashed an aggressive onslaught against Chand in the 20th over, hitting three stylish boundaries straight back past the bowler. Even the spinners couldn’t evade his onslaught, as Dhas executed a remarkable inside-out cover drive for a six, followed by a four in Dipesh Kandel’s over.
Saharan too soon got in on the act as he took on Durgesh Gupta for consecutive boundaries. Both batters achieved their individual half-century milestones, propelling the partnership to over 100 at a brisk pace.
The Nepal bowlers had no answer to the relentless assault from the batting duo, as boundaries flowed effortlessly. Chances came few and far between – Chand did induce an outside edge from Dhas but with no slip in place, the ball travelled to the boundary.
Dhas went on to score a century in the 45th over, becoming the fourth centurion for India in the tournament.
The marathon partnership of 215 runs, the highest by an Indian pair for any wicket in U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup history, finally came to an end in the 47th over when Dhas departed.
Saharan soon became the fifth India to record a century but was out the very next ball in an attempt to finish with a flourish.
Gulshan bowled a brilliant final over, giving away only 5 runs to stop India from crossing 300.
In pursuit of 298, Nepal’s opening pair, Deepak Bohara and Arjun Kumal, established a strong foundation with a 48-run partnership. Despite a slow start, the duo managed to break free towards the end of the Powerplay, hitting two fours each in the last two overs of the fielding restrictions.
Raj Limbani finally broke the resistance, delivering a short ball that resulted in Bohara’s dismissal, completing a straightforward return catch. The bowlers maintained discipline, effectively controlling the run-rate and prompting mistakes from the Nepal batters.
Uttam Magar became the first casualty under the mounting pressure, attempting a slog against Pandey’s bowling only to be caught at mid-wicket by Adarsh.
Pandey claimed two more wickets in his following over, putting an end to Arjun Kumal’s resistance and also dismissing Bishal Bikram in quick succession. The wickets further intensified the pressure on Nepal during their chase.
Kulkarni joined the wicket-taking spree, securing dismissals in consecutive overs to remove Deepak Dumre and Gulshan Jha. Murugan Abhishek made an immediate impact in his opening over, getting rid of Dipesh Kandel for a duck.
This sudden burst of wickets saw Nepal’s innings take a sharp downturn, sliding from 48/0 to a precarious 77/7.
Dev Khanal put up a resistance with a captain’s knock while Subash Bhandari played a crucial supporting role by playing solidly at the other end.
As the partnership was developing, Aaradhya Shukla deployed the short-ball tactic from around the wicket. The tactic proved effective, as Bhandari awkwardly fended an edge to the wicketkeeper.
Pandey ended Khanal’s resistance, who played on trying to dab down behind square.
The final-wicket pair managed to add 45 runs, successfully batting out the entire 50 overs, although they fell short by 132 runs.
Player of the Match Sachin Dhas was elated at scoring a hundred after being pushed up the batting order.
“It feels very nice to get the runs. I was told yesterday that I would be batting up the order and I grabbed the opportunity today. The team needed me to play a measured knock. The discussion with Uday [Saharan] in the middle was to play long and finish the innings.”
West Indies vs Australia ended in no result in Kimberley
Australia 227/8 (50) v West Indies 24/2 (4.3)
West Indies struck early with the ball after opting to field first against Australia. Inside the Powerplay, Aussie openers Harry Dixon and Harjas Singh started positively but were soon sent back in back-to-back overs.
Nathan Edward took the first wicket of Dixon who steered a straightforward catch to Joshua Dorne at midwicket. Moments later, Dorne showcased his fielding prowess again, taking a good, low catch at slip as Isai Thorne squared up Harjas.
Sam Konstas and Hugh Weibgen steadied the ship with a 39-run stand, but the captain couldn’t replicate his heroics from the previous game. Tarrique Edward, positioned at point, exhibited excellent reflexes to take a great catch and break the budding partnership.
The spinners quickly made an impact, starting with Nathan Sealy who induced an outside edge from Oliver Peake for a duck. Tarrique Edward then removed Lachlan Aitken, compounding Australia’s woes as they found themselves up against it, having lost half of their side with just 87 runs on the board.
As wickets continued to tumble at the other end, Sam Konstas responded with a flurry of aggressive shots and quickly reached his half-century off 73 balls. Raf MacMillan provided valuable support, consistently finding boundaries to release the building pressure mounted by the West Indies’ disciplined bowling.
Just as the duo was gearing up for a late onslaught in the death overs, their partnership abruptly ended thanks to a spectacular diving catch from Stephan Pascal at backward point. Undeterred, Konstas accelerated by smashing Raneico Smith for three consecutive boundaries and reached a well-deserved century in the 48th over.
Although he succumbed to Nathan Edward in the final over, Konstas played a crucial role in rescuing Australia, guiding them to a solid total of 227/8.
In the second innings, less than five overs of cricket were possible before rain interrupted play. Despite the limited action, Stephan Pascal kick-started the innings with two boundaries off the first two balls, but Charlie Anderson had the last laugh by taking a wicket off the final delivery.
Dorne faced a similar fate as Anderson claimed his second wicket. With the score at 24/2, play was halted due to lightning and rain, and unfortunately, no further play was possible.
As a result, the two teams shared points, and Australia, who ended up at the top in Group 2, secured a spot in the semi-finals.
Australia captain Hugh Weibgen was all praise for his batters who bailed the team out of a precarious situation.
“We had full faith in the people that were coming in. Obviously, Sam [Konstas] batted unbelievably well. It was just about forging partnerships for a period of time, which they were able to do and get us up to a competitive score.”
South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 119 wickets in Potchefstroom
South Africa 232/8 (50) v Sri Lanka 113 (23.2)
Put in to bat first by Sri Lanka, the South Africa openers once again succeeded in laying a solid platform, forging a quick-fire partnership of 63 runs. It was Lhuan-dre Pretorius who set the ball rolling with two fours in the first over.
Contrary to previous matches, Pretorius assumed the role of the aggressor against Sri Lanka while Steve Stolk played a supporting role. Stolk finally took charge in the ninth over with back-to-back boundaries but holed out in the deep attempting an inside-out shot over long-off.
Just as South Africa were recovering from the wicket, David Teeger was run out in a chaotic moment that saw both batters at the same end.
South Africa’s innings began to spiral after the wicket as they slipped further when Supun Waduge’s first over resulted in two wickets. Pretorius was unlucky to be run out at the non-striker’s end when Richard Seletswane shot straight down the ground, the ball flicked the bowler’s fingers and onto the stumps with Pretorius short of his ground.
On the next delivery, Seletswane fell victim to the spin and could only muster a shot straight back into the hands of Waduge, resulting in a straightforward return catch. The Proteas found themselves on the ropes as they lost Juan James and Dewan Marais in consecutive overs, further deepening their troubles.
Romashan Pillay and Riley Norton played a crucial role in steering South Africa back into the game through a composed partnership of 49 runs. Despite a slowdown in boundary-scoring, the duo effectively rotated the strike to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Tristan Luus and Nqobani Mokoena injected momentum into the innings and took South Africa, who were staring down the barrel at 133/6, to a respectable total of 232/8.
In reply, the Sri Lanka batters faced the formidable Kwena Maphaka, whose searing pace rained havoc on the top order.
In a fiery opening spell that lasted seven overs, Maphaka recorded his third five-wicket haul of the tournament – becoming the first bowler in U19 Men’s World Cup history to do so. The left-arm pacer made an immediate impact in the very first over, as Pulindu Perera struggled to contend with the express speed, managing only an outside edge to Pretorius.
Maphaka continued to keep the wicketkeeper busy, claiming Supun Waduge for the second duck of the innings.
Maphaka secured his third wicket in as many overs by squaring up captain Sineth Jayawardena, with the wicketkeeper once more called upon to take a good catch diving to his left.
Hirun Kapurubandara and Dinura Kalupahana offered a brief reprieve with a rapid 36-run partnership off 31 balls, however, the respite was short-lived as Kapurubandara attempted to take on Maphaka, only to be caught in the deep, bringing an end to the partnership.
Maphaka capped off his exceptional five-star performance with yet another well-executed short ball. Stolk completed a brilliant diving catch at mid-wicket, successfully removing the other set batter in Kalupahana.
Riley Norton also left his mark on the match, trapping Vihas Thewmika in front of the stumps to make inroads into the Sri Lanka tail. Norton was on a hat-trick after claiming consecutive wickets, sending both Sharujan Shanmuganathan and Vishwa Lahiru back to the pavilion.
Malsha Tharupathi delayed the inevitable with some powerful hits, but Norton eventually secured his fourth wicket. Kwena Maphaka then returned to the attack, putting the finishing touches on the innings with a six-wicket haul and bowling Sri Lanka out for 113.
Maphaka was ecstatic having put in yet another Player of the Match winning performance and has set his sights on the trophy.
“I am feeling very confident but I always know there’s something to work for. I know there’s something to keep going for. We want to win the World Cup.”