New Delhi, Jan 19: Afghanistan’s dream run in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup came to an end on Monday as Australia thrashed them by six wickets in the semifinal at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand. Australia entered the Super League Final after successfully chasing the target of 182 in 37.3 overs, losing just four wickets as Afghanistan were outplayed in all departments of the game. Also Read - Pakistan To Strengthen Ties With Afghanistan: PM Imran Khan
Afghanistan surprisingly chose to bat after winning the toss under an overcast skies and windy conditions but found the going tough against a disciplined Australian pace attack. Except wicketkeeper Ikram Ali Khil, none of the Afghanistan batsman could show their earlier form. The Australian fast bowlers kept a tight leash and picked up wickets at will. Also Read - Female passengers on Sydney bound Qatar Airways Flight Strip-Searched; Australia Raises Concern
While Khil top scored with 80 before he was caught by Lloyd Pope off Jack Edwards, the next highest score was by Rahmanullah Gurbaz (20) and extras (20). Only two other batsmen Nisar Wahdat (11) and Mujeeb Zadran (12*) could reach the double figures. Also Read - Abu Muhsin Al-Masri, Al-Qaeda's Second-in-command on FBI's Most Wanted List Killed by Afghan Security Forces
After a slow start by Afghanistan, Australia drew the first blood by removing Ibrahim Zadran for just seven. Wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals with the Afghanistan batsmen failing to stitch together a decent partnership.
Jonathan Merlo was the pick of the Australian pacers as he dismantled the Australian batting lineup with four wickets giving just 24 runs in his 10 overs. Out of the 60 deliveries that Merlo bowled, 45 were dot balls. (Also Read: Suresh Raina Returns to India’s T20I Squad, Picked For South Africa Series)
While Afghanistan had planned to conserve wickets and go all out in the slog overs but Australia had other plans. Even as Khil was able to tackle the Australian pacers, no other Afghanistan batsman was willing to spend time in the middle. Many of them kept chasing wide deliveries and paid the price.
The Australian run-chase too did not start perfectly with right-arm off break bowler Mujeeb Zardan sending back Max Bryant caught by Azmatullah Omarzai in the sixth over with the total just 26. But the loss was made up by the second wicket partnership between Jack Edwards and Jason Sangha. The duo added 77 runs to take the game away from Afghanistan as Edwards (72) made full advantage of being dropped early. (Also Read: Top 10 Expensive Buys of Indian Premier League 2018 Auction)
Although there was a mini collapse as Afghanistan picked up three quick wickets and Australia were reduced to 129/4 from 103/1, the result was never in doubt. The fifth wicket partnership of 53 runs between Nathan McSweeney and Param Uppal took Australia past the target and into the final where they await winner of the second semifinal between India and Pakistan, which is scheduled for Tuesday in Tauranga.