The first semi-final of the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup will see Afghanistan U19s take on Australia U19s at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Monday 29 January.
Afghanistan U19s have been the break out team at this edition of the ICC U19 World Cup, and they come into this game on the back of a crushing win over New Zealand U19s in the quarter finals. In that match they batted first and posted a massive 309/6 on the back of fifties from Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran and Bahir Shah. Then a bowling masterclass from Mujeeb Zadran (4/14) and Qais Ahmad (4/33) saw them bowl out the hosts for 107.
Re-live Afghanistan's stunning bowling performance against New Zealand...
Australia came back from a 100-run defeat in their first match against India to win three in three to see them make the semi-finals. Their quarter-final win against England came on the back of a brilliant display of leg-spin bowling from Lloyd Pope who helped himself to 8/35 to prevent England chasing 128 to win.
That target would have been even smaller if it hadn’t been for the efforts of their captain, Jason Sangha, who scored a 91-ball 58, and also took some vital catches at first slip.
Players to watch
It has to be the red-headed leggie that you focus on going into this match after his superb efforts against England U19s in the semi-final. He had just two wickets from two matches going into that match, but he has leap-frogged the rest of his teammates to be the leading wicket-taker for the Australians at this tournament.
Lloyd Pope on how he fell in love with cricket, his heroes, and what he hopes to achieve in the game...
It has been a good week for Mujeeb Zadran. First he bowled his side to a semi-final at the ICC U19 World Cup. Then he was picked up by Kings XI Punjab at the IPL auction for the tidy sum of US$629,200. Mujeeb has actually already played three full ODIs for Afghanistan, all of them against Ireland in December 2017. He did well, claiming seven wickets at an average of 16.57.
The magic of Mujeeb, from Afghanistan's victory over New Zealand...
World Cup history
Afghanistan’s stark rise, from being also-rans to one of the favourites, is illustrated by the fact that all their ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup appearances have come this decade. Their best performance until now came in 2014, when they shocked Australia in the group stages to qualify for the quarter-finals, eventually finishing seventh.
Australia won the first-ever ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 1988, and have since added the 2002 and 2010 titles to their collection. Featuring among the teams were future international cricketers Stuart Law, George Bailey, Shaun Marsh, and Josh Hazlewood. Australia chose not to compete at the 2016 edition of the tournament in Bangladesh due to security fears.
📞 Phone calls from the President— ICC (@ICC) January 28, 2018
🏏 An upcoming maiden Test match
✍️ Lucrative international contracts
... and tomorrow, an #U19CWC semi-final.
Read our feature on the ongoing emergence of cricket in Afghanistan 🇦🇫
➡️ https://t.co/FSV7X9BzzR pic.twitter.com/lXJxQ5xEfr
Head to head
These teams have met once before at this level, and it was that famous victory for Afghanistan in the group stages of the 2014 ICC U19 World Cup. On that day Afghanistan batted first and put on a very competitive 253, but Australia would have been confident of chasing that down. It wasn’t to be. Australia were bowled out for 217 to give Afghanistan a 36-run victory. The star with the ball for Afghanistan that day was Abdullah Adil who finished with 4/45.
It is going to be a warm and muggy day in Christchurch on Monday. A high of 23°C is expected with 77 percent humidity. There is very little chance of rain so we should get a full game.
Afghanistan: Naveen-ul-Haq (c), Qais Ahmad, Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Ali Khil (wk), Rahmanullah, Mohammad Ibrahim, Zahir Khan, Darwish Rasooli, Baheer Shah, Tariq Stanikzai, Nisar Wahdat, Wafadar, Waqarullah Ishaq, Mujeeb Zadran, Yousuf Zazai
Australia: Jason Sangha (c), Will Sutherland, Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter Holt (wk), Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Jason Ralston, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh