Ghafari spins Afghanistan into quarters; Sri Lanka crash out

With six needed off two balls, New Zealand No. 9 Kristian Clarke smashed a six over deep midwicket to knock Sri Lanka out of quarter-final contention and secure his team’s pathway into the next round in dramatic fashion.

With three wickets in hand, New Zealand needed 12 off the final over that was being delivered by Dilshan Madushanka, but Clarke – who finished unbeaten on a three-ball nine – walked across his stumps to connect cleanly with his slog. The New Zealand players rushed onto the field to celebrate while the Sri Lanka team fell on their knees.

New Zealand’s chase of 243 was set up by Rhys Mariu, who struck 86 with six fours but it was their No. 4 and Player of the Match Beckham Wheeler-Greenall who led most of their charge in the second half of the innings. He struck 80 with four fours and a six and was run-out in the 49th over with the team needing 14 runs in the last nine deliveries.

That Sri Lanka posted 242 in the first place was courtesy their No. 8 and allrounder Ahan Wickramasinghe, who hit nine fours in his 48-ball innings of 64. He had walked in at the 37th over with Sri Lanka at 141 for 6 and together with No. 6 Sonal Dinusha (46) added 78 runs in 66 balls. The early damage to Sri Lanka was caused by legspinner Adithya Ashok, who took 3 for 38 in the first innings.

Sri Lanka are now relegated to the plate group of the tournament since they can now only reach a maximum of two points. New Zealand now face India to see which of those teams end up topping Group A.

Afghanistan were through to the quarter-finals after beating United Arab Emirates by 160 runs, their second straight victory. Opener Ibrahim Zadran showed his international experience in top scoring with 87 in a dominating batting performance. He was complemented by Rahmanullah, who made an 82-ball 81 at No. 4 as they posted 265 for 5. The end-overs impetus was provided by Mohammad Ishaq, the wicketkeeper, who struck four fours and a six in his 26-ball 35 not out.

In reply, UAE started promisingly with the openers Aryan Lakara and V Aravind putting on 61, but a procession of wickets followed thereafter as they were bowled out for 106. Legspinner Shafiqullah Ghafari, who spun South Africa out with 6 for 15 in the tournament opener, finished with magical figures of 5 for 23.

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Pakistan joined Bangladesh in the quarter-finals, but not before being run close by Zimbabwe, who made a proper fist of a 295-run target. They eventually fell 38 short to crash out of the knockouts from Group C. Pakistan recovered from 74 for 3 courtesy half-centuries from Fahad Munir and Qasim Akram. With the launchpad set, Mohammad Haris provided the spark with a blistering 48-ball 81, in which he struck six fours and four sixes.

Zimbabwe’s Wesley Madhevere, playing in his third Under-19 World Cup, began impressively with a half-century while Milton Shumba from No. 3 also made 58. However, from 186 for 3 in 36 overs, Zimbabwe failed to kick on courtesy Abbas Afridi and Tahir Hussain, the seamers, who finished with three wickets apiece.

South Africa bounced back from their opening-day loss to Afghanistan by trouncing Canada by 150 runs in Potchefstroom. Bryce Parsons, the captain, made a 90-ball 121 to steer the innings, while Jonathan Bird and Tyrese Karelse contributed 54 and 60 respectively to South Africa’s imposing 349 for 8, 120 of which were scored in the last 13 overs.

Canada’s innings folded around Benjamin Calitz‘s unbeaten 62; they were bowled out for 199 in 41.1 overs, with Achille Cloete, Tiaan van Vuuren and Jack Lees picking up two wickets apiece. The loss means Canada are out of the running for the quarter-finals.