Afghanistan Under-19 158 for 5 (Zadran 73*, Atal 40, Modimokoane 2-37) beat South Africa Under-19 154 (Bird 34, Ghafari 4-15, Haque 3-33) by five wickets
South Africa’s home Under-19 World Cup ended in defeat, as they went down to Afghanistan by five wickets in the seventh-place playoff in Benoni. South Africa could only put up 154 after opting to bat, as legspinner Shafiqullah Ghafari and left-arm quick Fazal Haque picked up seven wickets between them. Afghanistan’s reply, not always smooth, was led by Test opener Ibrahim Zadran, and they got to their target with just under ten overs to spare.
Interestingly, when the two teams had met in the tournament opener too, Ghafari had been the star in Afghanistan’s seven-wicket win, returning 6 for 15 in 9.1 overs. Afghanistan thus made it 2-0 against the home side in the competition, and Ghafari had combined figures of 17.4-5-30-10 in two games against South Africa.
Medium-pacers Haque and Abdul Rahman sent back openers Levert Manje and Andrew Louw by the end of the sixth over with just 17 runs on the board, and Rahman had a second wicket in the form of captain Bryce Parsons soon after, to leave South Africa in a hole. It got worse for them when Jonathan Bird had to retire hurt after being struck in the elbow by a delivery from Rahman in the tenth over. Bird had looked good, hitting five fours in his 22, off 26 balls at that stage.
Luke Beaufort and Tyrese Karelse did fight back for a while, but when they were both sent back by Ghafari, South Africa still had only 80 on the board. The wickets kept falling till No.9 Merrick Brett and No.10 Mondli Khumalo scored some quick runs in a 51-run stand, but both of them were dismissed by Haque in the same over, the 37th of the innings, forcing Bird to come out for a bit of a late flourish. He didn’t disappoint, hitting Rahman for a six and a four, but then became the last man out when Ghafari had his number.
It wasn’t a huge target, but batting hasn’t been Afghanistan’s strongest suit, and they needed Zadran to show them the way. He did, hitting a responsible 73 in 113 balls, with seven fours, to take them to the finish line.
He got support up front, with opening partner Sediqullah Atal providing the early impetus in the chase. The two put together 51 for the first wicket in 10.3 overs, and Atal scored 40 of those, in just 38 balls, with four fours and three sixes. There was a bit of a stutter for Afghanistan after that as 51 for no loss became 58 for 3, Odirile Modimokoane picking up two wickets, but Rahman was back at it with the bat this time, and played a good hand of 27 runs in a 86-run stand for the fourth wicket with Zadran.
There was a little bit to do after that, but Zadran made sure there was no late drama.