Australia got their defence of the Under-19 World Cup underway with a relatively comfortable six-wicket win over one of their main challengers, England, in Group A on a bouncy pitch in Townsville. Australian captain Will Bosisto won an important toss and inserted the opposition. He was immediately rewarded with the wicket of premier England batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond in the opening over, bowled by the pacy Joel Paris. The other big wicket, that of Essex wicket-keeper batsman Ben Foakes, fell in the next over to Queensland’s Mark Steketee.
Alex Davies and Craig Overton then mounted a partial recovery with a third-wicket partnership of 32, but Steketee removed the former for 18 and the rest of the batting faded away. England were all out for just 143 in the 39th over, with Gurinder Sandhu and Ashton Turner backing up the excellent opening bursts by Paris (two for 35) and Steketee (two for 35) to end with three wicket apiece.
Australia lost both openers early in their reply, one each to England’s opening bowlers Jamie Overton and Reece Topley, who then struck again towards the end of their spells to reduce them to 54 for four. However, South Australia’s Travis Head hit 57 not out off only 59 balls and shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 93 with Bosisto (35 not out of 85) to see them home in the 36th over.
After the match Bosisto paid tribute to his bowlers, saying, “It was great to start off with a win against a strong side like England. I think our bowlers bowled really well early on, they had good line and lengths and we got a few nicks and LBWs and from there it was really about keeping it tight. We have played England before and we expected them to put a few more runs on but I know the wicket was tough for batting out there early on.”
Pakistan trounced Afghanistan in the Group B match held at Buderim, with skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Nawaz leading the way with half-centuries. Azam added 49 for the first wicket with Sami Aslam (21 off 46 balls) and 73 for the second-wicket with Imam-ul-Haq (25 off 51) to lay the platform for their total of 253 for six. Nawaz then helped overcome a slight middle-order collapse of three for six with an innings of 66 off only 50 balls.
In reply, Afghanistan lost regular wickets, with Zia-ul-Haq dismissing both openers on the way to figures of four for 30. Only four Afghan batsmen reached double figures, with Hashmatullah Shaidi’s 77-ball 50 the highest score of the innings. They were all out for 144 in the 46th over to lose by 109 runs.
Talented teenager Kevin Kasuza hit 97 off 121 balls to help Zimbabwe to an expected victory in Group C over qualifiers Papua New Guinea in Townsville. He shared an opening stand of 109 with Luke Masasire (47 off 68) as Zimbabwe were all out for 249 off the final ball of their innings. Leg-spinner Christopher Kent, who has already played for Papua New Guinea’s senior side took five for 45 from his seven overs. Papua New Guinea never got going in their run chase and were all out for just 145 with the wickets shared around among thr six Zimbabwe bowlers.
In Group D, Bangladesh recorded a 25-run win over Sri Lanka in Brisbane, mainly thanks to a third-wicket stand of 141 between skipper Anamul Haque and Asif Ahmed. They had lost both openers inside the first powerplay to Sanitha de Mel (three for 46), but Haque hit the tournament’s first century, while Ahmed made 84 off 114 balls to haul the up to 249 for seven. Angelo Jayasinghe hit 83 off 121 balls in Sri Lanka’s run chase, but he found little support other than during a fifth-wicket partnership of 85 with Lahiru Madushanka (48 off 59 balls) and they were bowled out for 224 in the penultimate over.
Tomorrow sees India take on West Indies in what is perhaps the pick of the day’s matches, although Bangladesh could give South Africa a scare. England and New Zealand will expect to win their matches against Ireland and Scotland relatively comfortably.
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