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West Indies rout Canada thanks to Simmons 166

Keagan Simmons and Alick Athanaze added 156 to provide a bedrock for their innings before their bowlers dismissed Canada for 136.
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West Indies 323/8 (Simmons 166, Athanaze 87; Gill 4/54) beat Canada 136 (Naress 61) by 187 runs

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A superb 166 from Keagan Simmons drove West Indies well past 300 in the first innings of their Plate Semi-Final against Canada, before an excellent team bowling performance ensured the North American side never got anywhere close.

West Indies won the toss and chose to bat, losing two wickets within the first 10 overs, both falling to the unorthodox but accurate off-spinner Rommel Shahzad.

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West Indies start well against Canada, reaching 96 for 2 at drinks

But then came the match’s defining partnership, as Simmons was joined by the in-form Alick Athanaze, West Indies’ leading run scorer in the tournament coming into the game. Together the pair added 156, taking West Indies to 212 before Athanaze was dismissed.

The key feature of their partnership was the ease with which they rotated the strike. It felt effortless, with the singles not stolen but nudged and pushed into gaps, and when there were bad balls they were inevitably dispatched.

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Keagan Simmons chalks up 166 for West Indies U19s

Perhaps more effort could have been made by Canada to plug the holes in the field; the bowling wasn’t profligate but pressure through dot balls could never be built up, and though captain Arslan Khan experimented with his bowlers, using eight in total, he might have missed a trick with his field placements.

When both batsman had passed 50 the strike rotation gave way to boundary hitting, 36 runs coming in five overs after Athanaze reached his half-century, before Canada pulled West Indies back, conceding just 25 – and not a single boundary – in the four and a half overs preceeding Athanaze’s dismissal. West Indies were 212/3, and if Canada could find a way past Simmons they might have been able to restrict their opponents to less than 280.

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Kavian Naress breaks Windies partnership - Athanaze lbw for 87

The problem was, they couldn’t, not until he’d made the second highest score by a West Indian at this level. His hundred came up from 101 balls, and his 150 just 25 balls later as he took Canada to all parts, going aerial but just to clear the in-field, and not attempting to overhit the ball. Akash Gill located his yorker, bowling well at the death to finish with 4/54, a drop off the last ball agonisingly denying him a fifth.

A five-wicket haul would have been little consolation for Gill when he became the third of three wickets to fall within the first three overs of Canada's innings, effectively ending the match as a contest. From 5/3, captain Arslan Khan and Kavian Naress staged a recovery of sorts, adding 48, though too slowly to threaten an actual comeback.

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Kian Pemberton's catch ends Kavian Naress' stand at 61

They were the only two batsmen to make it to double figures, Naress carrying on to a gritty 61 as wickets fell around him. West Indies bowled well and caught even better, belying their lack of energy and celebration in the field. The game progressed with a surreal air, the result long decided and just the motions left to go through.

The one cause of concern for the West Indies will be the fitness of their captain, Emmanuel Stewart, who copped a blow on the ribs behind the stumps which forced him from the field. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to take part in what West Indies secured here today - a place in the Plate Final against Sri Lanka. 

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