Australia ends Afghan dream run, makes U-19 World Cup final

The Aussies made best use of the conditions to bundle out Afghanistan for 181 before Jack Edwards blazing knock saw them through to the final of the ICC U-19 cricket World Cup.

Australia's Jonathan Merlo celebrates the fall of an Afghanistan wicket with his teammates in the ICC U-19 World Cup on Monday.   -  ICC

Australia sauntered into the ICC Under 19 World Cup final by halting Afghanistan’s dream run with a six-wicket victory, built around Jack Edward’s half-century after a splendid bowling show, at Christchurch on Monday.

Electing to bat, the strife-torn nation, put on board a modest 181, which was never going to be enough for the three-time champion.

It was wicket-keeper batsman Ikram Ali Khil, who resisted the Australian attack with a brave 80 off 119 balls, helping his side put on board something to fight for.

Australia had no trouble in knocking off the required runs with opener Jack Edwards producing a solid 72-run knock at the top. It won by 75 balls to spare.

Off-spinner Mujeeb Zadran, picked by IPL franchisee Kings XI Punjab for the next edition, had provided an early breakthrough by dismissing opener Max Bryant (4) but Australia had more than able line-up to handle Afghanistan challenge.

Captain Jason Singha (26) was caught and bowled by leg- spinner Qais Ahmed after a good start and Jonathan Merlo (17) also got out cheaply after getting his eye in but by that time it needed less than 60 runs.

Ahmad denied Edwards a century by cleaning him up and it was pair of Pawan Uppal (32) and Nathan McSweeney (22) that took the side to finish line.

"We did a bit of research on their spinners and thought it'd be a good idea to take the game to them," Edwards said. "Try to get them before they get us.

"The pitch was pretty slow, probably gave us a bit of time to read the spin, which helped."

They added 53 runs in their unbeaten fifth wicket partnership.

Earlier, Afghanistan struggled to create steady partnerships. Ali Khil held the one end tight with his fighting 80-run knock, which came off 119 balls and eight boundaries, but did not get support from the other end.

Seven Afghani batsmen could not manage a double-digit score as pacer Jonathan Merlo ran through the middle order.

After Khil, the biggest contribution came from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who scored 20 off 37 balls.

Merlo accounted for four batsmen and conceded just 24 runs in his 10-over quota while his pace colleague Zak Evans scalped two batsmen for 26 runs.

Australia will now take on winner of tomorrow’s semifinal between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.

Brief Scores:

Afghanistan: 181 all out in 48 overs.(IA Khil 80, R Gurbaz 29; J Merlo 4/24, Z Evans 2/26)

Australia: 182 for 4 in 37.3 overs.(J Edwards 72, P Uppal 32 not out; Q Ahmad 2/35).

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