By Sidhanta Patnaik in Dubai
Ben Duckett’s century and unbroken last-wicket stand of 34 in 21 balls seal Australia’s fate
David Collier, CEO of England and Wales Cricket Board, and his wife arrived in Dubai on Friday (February 28) to witness England take on Australia at the ICC Academy Oval 1 in the third-place playoff at the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. And Ben Duckett made the day for his boss with an attractive century as England clinched a thrilling one-wicket win with two balls to spare to finish ahead of its archrivals.
That England won the game, however, was because of the last-wicket partnership between Josh Shaw and Matthew Fisher. When they came together, England needed 34 runs in 23 balls. They took the equation down to 16 from the final over, bowled by James Bazley. Fisher hit a six over cover off the first ball, and then Shaw hit two fours – one to the straight boundary and one to fine leg – to bring Collier and other England supporters out of their seats.
Earlier, Australia managed to reach 246 for 7 largely because of Ben McDermott’s aggressive unbeaten 56 after he came out to bat at No. 6. Apart from McDermott, Matthew Short and Thomas Andrews chipped with handy contributions after Australia decided to bat on a bright and sunny day.
Australia, who rested quite a few of their key players, got off to a good start as Short and Kelvin Smith put on 63 runs in quick time. But then, Will Rhodes, England’s captain, brought himself on and, as has happened often, the results were immediate.
Short played a pull a bit early and was caught at midwicket, and soon after, Rhodes had Smith. Between those two dismissals, Damien Mortimer edged one from Mile Hammonds, the offspinner, to give an easy catch to Joe Clarke behind the stumps.
Wickets continued to fall as Australia was reduced to 150 for 6.
But England was average on the field, and Shaw dropped an easy catch at mid-off early in Andrews's innings. It proved to be a costly miss as Andrews went on to make 40 and put on 78 runs in 80 balls with McDermott.
In its chase, England got off to a poor start. Ben Ashkenazi accounted for Jonathan Tattersall and that triggered a collapse as England lost three wickets for three runs, and then Ed Barnard’s poor tournament came to an end when Ashkenazi bowled him on his way to returning figures of 3 for 32.
Duckett found support from Rhodes and Robert Jones and put on partnerships of 54 and 59 for the fifth and seventh wicket respectively with them.
Duckett, who had used the reverse sweep really well in his match-winning knock against India in the quarterfinal, continued to impress with his shots square of the wicket, but immediately after reaching his century, in the 45th over, he was deceived by the slowness of the track and checked his shot, only to give Cameron Valente an easy caught and bowled. Duckett’s 100 came in 109 balls with nine hits to the fence.
England needed 36 runs off the last five overs with three wickets in hand but Jones and Hammond fell to Bazley and Valente respectively in the space of three balls.
Collier, understandably, looked dejected at that stage, but the smile was back once Shaw and Fisher were done with the job.