ICC U-19 World Cup: England outclass Afghanistan to enter final | Cricket News
Spinner Rehan Ahmed became the hero for the Young Lions, taking three wickets in the penultimate over at a crucial point when their opponents needed 18 runs from the last 10 balls.
England will now face the winner of the other semifinal between Australia and India in the title match on Saturday. It is a remarkable turnaround for England from the previous tournament two years ago in South Africa when they finished ninth.
As for Afghanistan, they will head to the Coolidge Cricket Ground for the third-place playoff.
England win a thriller in Antigua!And after a 24-year wait, they are through to an #U19CWC Final 🏆Afghanistan s… https://t.co/MnjNMVjTU3
— ICC (@ICC) 1643750728000
Rain delayed the first of the two Super League semifinals at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground after England won the toss and chose to bat.
Once both sides were eventually able to take to the field, it was Afghanistan who made the stronger start.
Jacob Bethell, who lit up the quarterfinal tie with 88 against South Africa last week, was trapped LBW by Naveed Zadran, an early sign that England faced a difficult task.
Skipper Tom Prest then joined vice-captain Bethell in making an early departure, which reduced England to 56 for two, as England struggled with the bat.
George Thomas did steady the ship with an excellent 50 after a slightly nervy introduction at the crease, beaten by an excellent delivery from Noor Ahmad. But when William Luxton was clean bowled by Izharulhaq Naveed, Prest’s team was five wickets down having barely put 100 runs on the board.
Result: Afghanistan fell short by 15 runs in the semi-final against England. 😞Congratulations to @ECB_cricket… https://t.co/uZyk9lb4wU
— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) 1643750962000
However, rain came again to delay play for a further half an hour and led to revised conditions of 47 overs per side.
England’s back-end partnership of 95 between George Bell and Alex Horton then managed to give a positive direction to their innings. The duo attacked fghanistan seamers fiercely, which helped them reach 231.
Earlier interruptions from the weather meant Afghanistan had a revised DLS target to match this score and chasing a place in the final, they knew a good start was needed to seize control of the game. But opener Nangeyalia Kharote was unable to provide that when English seamer Josh Boyden claimed his wicket with just the third ball of the innings.
Next man in, Allah Noor, smashed a huge six to get off the mark. The 18-year-old produced a marvellous knock, which featured eight boundaries as the momentum of the semifinal swung back Afghanistan’s way.
Along with wicketkeeper Mohammad Ishaq, the pair got their team past 90, with Noor making a valuable half-century.
What a moment for England 👏Can they repeat the #U19CWC heroics of 1998? https://t.co/4dXsWaG2iR
— ICC (@ICC) 1643752183000
A crucial breakthrough for England came after a wonderful piece of fifielding led to Ishaq getting run out, as wicketkeeper Horton reacted quickly to a loose throw at the striker’s end.
Noor remained stubborn but was eventually dismissed for 60, with Thomas Aspinwall claiming a vital wicket. That set up a frantic finish that could have gone either way.
The 44th over for England appeared to have turned the game when two no-balls in a row gifted their opponents eight runs, before Abdul Hadi (37 not out) smashed a six to take his team tantalizing close.
But Ahmed’s three-wicket and a nerveless final over from Boyden carried England over the line to their first ICC U-19 World Cup final since 1998.