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09 February 201614:36 By Manoj Narayan, Cox's Bazar

Afghanistan U19 spinners choke New Zealand U19

Shamsurrrahman, Rashid take three wickets each, set up comprehensive eight-wicket victory

Afghanistan U19 spinners choke New Zealand U19
 - Cricket News

New Zealand Under-19 struggled badly against Afghanistan Under-19’s spinners and was shot out for 135.

New Zealand Under-19 struggled against Afghanistan Under-19’s spinners on Tuesday (February 9) and was shot out for 135, as the Asian side completed an eight-wicket win in their Plate Championship game of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016.

New Zealand's total at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium Academy Ground was largely thanks to Aniket Parikh’s 54-ball 48, even as Shamsurrahman and Rashid Khan returned three wickets apiece.

Afghanistan was barely troubled in its chase. Tariq Stanikzai scored an 86-ball 50, and put on 68 with Ihsanullah Janat, the captain, who scored a 57-ball 47. Victory was completed in 27.3 overs.

That meant neither New Zealand nor South Africa, the defending champion, made it to the Plate Championship final. They will instead contest for the 11th spot, even as Zimbabwe and Afghanistan compete for the Plate trophy.

Afghanistan seemed to have done its homework and knew New Zealand wasn’t particularly adept against spin. It didn’t waste any time with medium-pace after it was asked to field, as Ziar-ur-Rehman, the left-arm spinner, and Shamsurrahman, the offspinner, jumped straight in to open the attack.

A dollop of composure would have hugely benefitted the New Zealand batsmen. They couldn’t grind through a tough opening period, instead attempting to hit their way out and gifting wickets against quality spinners. The first wicket, that of Glenn Phillips -- who had scored a 40-ball 89 against Scotland -- came in the very first over when he chipped Zia-ur-Rehman straight to short midwicket.

It was the start of a procession. Rachin Ravindra popped one straight back to Shamsurrahman two overs later, Christian Leopard followed suit after a brief 16-run stand with Josh Finnie, and Finn Allen became Shamsurrahman’s third scalp. New Zealand was reduced to 30 for 4, each of the batsmen falling in trying to attack when the need of the hour was to keep wickets intact. Rashid, the left-arm spinner, then had both Finnie – who had scored a 33-ball 16 – and Dale Phillips bowled, and at 35 for 6, New Zealand was living a nightmare.

However, things took a turn for the better when Parikh walked in and showed excellent application against spin – perhaps it had to do with his Indian origins. He was gritty, his footwork was nimble and he easily picked the turning ball. He found support in Josh Clarkson, an aggressor who put away some much-needed boundaries, including a huge six over cover off Shamsurrahman. Parikh was equal to the task at the other end, driving Rashid consecutively to the ropes, and the recovery was on.

They had put on 31 when Clarkson missed a flick and was trapped in front by Rashid. Unperturbed, Parikh took charge and guided Nathan Smith (23) along. Their 57-run stand marred Afghanistan’s early good work and frustrated it, with Parikh pulling off boundaries every now and then. Importantly, they took the total over the 100-mark, giving New Zealand a small if improbable chance to pull something off. The stand was broken when Parikh, just two runs short of a half-century, holed out after a rush of blood. Despite that, his effort had helped New Zealand recover impressively.

Afghanistan wasn’t too troubled during its chase. Karim Janat fell for a run-a-ball 13 in the fifth over, but Afghanistan arrested its recent tendency to lose wickets in a bunch. Ihsanullah and Tariq were in a hurry to wrap things up. Ihsanullah used his muscle to find the boundaries – at one point, he lifted a six off Ravindra over cover after going down on one knee – but also played fine cuts and sweeps. Tariq kept pace, and the runs flowed all too quickly for New Zealand’s liking.

Ihsanullah holed out off Parikh, three runs short of a half-century, but Tariq carried on to notch up his own half-century, and victory was sealed when Perwez Malakzai (15) hammered Ravindra straight down the ground for a maximum.

Click here to view the full scorecard.