ICC U19 World Cup: Afghanistan beat Sri Lanka to reach Super League semi-finals


Afghanistan produced a sensational fight to end a thrilling encounter with Sri Lanka and made it to the semi-finals of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022. Despite setting a target of only 135, a stellar performance with the ball meant Suleiman Safi’s side. Did enough to move on from the Super League quarter-finals. Sri Lankan captain Dunith Velalez scored a late spell at the crease as if it would pull his team over the line, but that didn’t mean Afghanistan played a low-scoring thriller to reach the last four, matching theirs. Achievement from the 2018 tournament in New Zealand.

Winning the toss at the Coolidge Cricket Ground, Veles’ team elected to field and for the first few overs it was difficult to tell if it was the right decision.

Afghanistan openers Nangeyalia Kharote and Bilal Saeedi looked strong in the opening ten overs before Traveen Mathew removed Saeedi. Kharote went in the very next over and when captain Suleiman Safi went lbw with just one run, Afghanistan turned.

Ijaz Ahmedzai lost his wicket without disturbing the scoreboard, but fellow middle-order batsman Abdul Hadi was able to steady the ship with a crucial knock. The left-handed batsman came to the crease with his team’s struggle but managed to score 37 runs including four fours before he was stumped by a clever delivery from Dunith Velalez.

Vinjua Ranpul then helped clear the tail for Sri Lanka, ending up with five wickets at the cost of just ten runs. When he dismissed Izharulhaq Naveed, Afghanistan were all out for just 134 runs.

The Sri Lankan reply was shaky from the start. Opener Sadisha Rajapaksa went for a duck in the first over, and was replaced by Chevon Daniel Bilal for just 2 runs after being clean bowled by Sami.

After 13 overs, they were in a worse position than Afghanistan during their innings. Nor did Ahmed then produce a cracking delivery to remove Ranuda Somarathane and put Sri Lanka in real trouble.

Since that time, his dreams of lifting the first ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup were fast fading away. However, an eight-wicket partnership between skipper Velez and Raveen de Silva looked like it could save the day, taking Sri Lanka to 112 for seven from 43 runs.

Kharote then took the crucial wicket of the captain, who played cheap, before Naved set up a nerve-jangling finish to claim de Silva’s wicket. Sri Lanka got within five runs of victory, but a fourth run out of the innings resulted in Mathew losing the final wicket and giving Afghanistan a dramatic win.

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Afghanistan will now take on England in the first Super League semi-final at the Sir Viv Richards Cricket Ground on 1 February.

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