U19 Men’s World Cup: South Africa, Australia reach semifinals

Host South Africa and Australia clinched their semifinals of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup, reaching the last-four stage with contrasting results against Sri Lanka and West Indies respectively on Friday.

Host South Africa and Australia clinched their semifinals of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup, reaching the last-four stage with contrasting results against Sri Lanka and West Indies respectively on Friday.

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.

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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.

No result in West Indies vs Australia

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 semifinals.

(IANS)

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