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Merlo, Edwards propel Australia to final of ICC U19 World Cup

Ryan Hadley bowled a tight spell upfront
Ryan Hadley bowled a tight spell upfront
©ICC / Getty

Australia U19 182-4 (Edwards 72) beat
Afghanistan U19 181 (Ikram 80) by six wickets
Semi-final, ICC Under 19 World Cup, Hagley Oval

Jonathan Merlo picked a four-wicket haul while Jack Edwards followed it with a 72-run knock as Australia went on to beat Afghanistan by six wickets at Hagley Oval to reach the final of the ICC Under 19 World Cup.

Australia will now face the winner of the Pakistan and India semi-final on 3rd February in Mount Maunganui.

Earlier, it was Afghanistan, who won the toss and decided to bat first. As Rahmanullah (20) was trying to look for runs. his opening partner, Ibrahim Zadran (7) struggled to get going and his 28-ball vigil ended Zak Evans (2-26) in the eighth over when he mistimed a pull shot to deep fine leg.

Rahmanullah was then joined by Ikram Ali Khil (80) as the duo consolidated with a 37-run stand before Merlo (4-24) picked his first wicket when he had the former caught by the keeper down the leg side.

That was the opening Australia wanted as Merlo removed Baheer Shah (4), Darwish Rasooli (2) and Nisar Wahdat (11) in quick succession and from being 80 for two, Afganistan slipped to 146 for seven with only Ikram showing some resilience with a 119-ball knock. Afghanistan were eventually bowled out for 181 runs in 48 overs.

In the chase, Max Bryant (4) fell early to Mujeeb Zadran (1-45) but Edwards (72) played positively and smashed eight boundaries and two sixes in his 65-ball knock that put the pressure on Afghanistan.

He found brief support from skipper Jason Sangha (26) as they went past the 100-run mark in the 16th over.

Even though, Afghanistan pulled back things briefly with the wickets of Edwards, Sangha and Merlo (17), Param Uppal (32 not out) and Nathan McSweeney (22 not out) ensured there was no further collapse as they completed the chase in the 38th over with six wickets in hand.

Edwards was named the player of the match for his all-round performance.

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