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07 February 201615:15 By Sidhanta Patnaik, Mirpur

​All-round Sri Lanka marches into semifinal

Avishka Fernando falls short of century but Sri Lanka coasts to victory against England

​All-round Sri Lanka marches into semifinal - Cricket News

ENG U19 vs SL U19 at SBNCS

It was not a massive surprise that England Under-19 struggled against Sri Lanka Under-19’s potent spin attack in the third quarterfinal of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Sunday (February 7), but it must be disappointed as its six-wicket defeat was more a consequence of succumbing to reputations than conditions.

Having played against each other in a triangular series in Colombo recently, there were no secrets, and Sri Lanka made the first move when it opened the bowling with Thilan Nimesh, the left-arm spinner, after being asked to bowl.

Sri Lanka dropped all pretence after the 14th over as six spinners bowled all the remaining overs till England was bowled out for 184 in 49.2 overs. Sri Lanka then rode on Avishka Fernando’s 95 and his opening-wicket partnership of 76 with Kaveen Bandara to chase down the target in 35.4 overs.

The game started with Asitha Fernando, who bowled six of the seven overs of seam in England’s innings, making the first move when Dan Lawrence tried giving the charge but was played on in final ball of the fifth over. In his next delivery, Fernando opened up Max Holden with a full delivery that moved just a bit to have him caught at slip.

The need of the hour was for Jack Burnham and Callum Taylor to consolidate. While the pair would have tried to draw confidence from the fact that they were unbeaten in the group stages, the reality was that the two youngsters struggled against the deliveries before them now.

Burnham’s dismissal pretty much captured the story of England’s innings. A wrong decision against Wanidu Hasaranga’s slow legspin forced him to change his shot at the last minute, and he was bowled.

Callum tried to put up a brave fight with his 42, but it was a matter of time before he got a ball with his name written on it. In his first over, Asalanaka, who bowls offspin, brought himself from round the wicket and Callum missed a pull shot to be lbw.

As much as the spinners put up a wonderful display of their craft, the moment of the innings belonged to Nimesh, who took a spectacular catch at long off to dismiss George Bartlett for 25 in the 36th over.

Trying to force the pace, Bartlett hit a tossed up delivery from Kamindu Mendis, the ambidextrous spinner, towards the long off.

Realising that he had run a bit too far forward, Nimesh stood still and timed his backward dive to perfection to pluck an one-handed catch that should soon find its way into the Youtube world.

Despite the poor batting display, England’s lower order deserved credit for taking its innings till the last over.

Through Ben Green’s 26 and skipper Brad Taylor’s 22, England gave its score some respectability, the Sri Lankan spinners had bowled the overs so quickly that the innings was over by 11.46am.

Much before the wonderful lunch that they serve at the venue was ready, Sri Lanka had knocked off 51 runs in eight overs.

Avishka provided the highlight of that little phase of play when he hit four glorious boundaries off Sam Curran in the third over. Each of those shots was a lesson in timing and placement.

Not long after the lunch break, the openers were separated when Bandara was run out for 22. Mendis made only 10, but victory was always in Sri Lanka’s sight.

Avishka’s century became the focus of the last part of the game, and he was looking set for that when Saqib Mahmood, England’s best bowler of the day, had him caught behind on the leg side. Asalanka, who made 34 and had a partnership of 69 runs with Avishka, too perished, but that was only of academic interest.

Even as Avishka walked back to the hut his teammates cheered for him in the dug-out, perhaps visualising the semifinal clash against India at the same venue on February 11.

Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre