Australia secured third place at the ICC U19 Men’s World Cup with a nervy two-wicket win over Afghanistan.
A controlled bowling effort had restricted Afghanistan to 201 all out in 49.2 overs, with Nivethan Radhakrishnan (3/31) and Will Salzmann (3/43) impressing.
And Australia looked to be cruising to victory with the score at 113/1 after 26.2 overs.
But wickets tumbled against the high-quality Afghan spin, with three batters falling for three runs late on to leave bowlers Jack Sinfield and Joshua Garner at the crease with six runs still required and deliveries running out.
However, the pair held their nerve, and Garner sealed victory with a cover drive for two, wrapping up the win with five balls to spare.
Earlier, Afghanistan’s first innings had started poorly when Salzmann took two wickets in two balls to send opener Nangeyalia Kharote (5) and Allah Noor (0) back to the hutch inside the Powerplay.
But Afghanistan put together some handy partnerships as they built their way towards a competitive score, with Mohammad Ishaq (34) and captain Suliman Safi (37) adding 70 runs for the third wicket.
Some lackadaisical running from Ishaq saw him run out by a direct hit from Salzmann, and Khaiber Wali also fell victim to Australia’s sharp fielding as he was caught short of his ground by a combination of Teague Wyllie and Lachlan Shaw.
Yet Afghanistan still put together a defendable total from 95/5, thanks in large part to the excellent Ijaz Ahmad Ahmadzai.
The 18-year-old hit five fours and five sixes in a powerful display of strokeplay, eventually falling for a 79-ball 81 off the final delivery of the penultimate over.
Radhakrishnan was the pick of the bowlers for Australia, taking wickets with both his right-arm off-breaks and his left-arm orthodox spin.
Tasked with chasing 202 to secure third place in the tournament, Australia got off to a steady start, seeing out the first powerplay without the loss of a wicket.
A subdued 13 from 26 balls saw Wyllie become the first batter dismissed to Afghanistan’s spin attack, bowled by Nangeyalia Kharote.
But, promoted to number three, Radhakrishnan kept Australia’s seemingly serene progress going, as he added 60 runs alongside Campbell Kellaway (51) for the second wicket.
The quality of Afghanistan’s spinners has been a feature of their run to the third-place playoff, and they threatened another spectacular turnaround as wickets fell at regular intervals through the middle overs. Kharote (3/35), Noor Ahmad (2/43) and Shahidullah Hasani (2/44) were all excellent.
Lachlan Shaw and Corey Miller took Australia to within nine runs of victory with five wickets still in hand after the classy Radhakrishnan had been stumped for 66.
But, in a tense finale, both Shaw and Corey were dismissed, with Salzmann also caught behind, to leave Australia eight down and at risk of throwing the game away.
However, Sinfield and Garner finished the job, ensuring that Australia will return home from the World Cup as the best of the rest, with India and England battling it out in Saturday’s final.
ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022 placings
3 – Australia
4 – Afghanistan
5 – Pakistan
6 – Sri Lanka
7 – South Africa
8 – Bangladesh
9 – United Arab Emirates
10 – Ireland
11 – West Indies
12 – Zimbabwe
13 – Uganda
14 – Scotland
15 – Canada
16 – PNG
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