Recent Match Report – England U19 vs Afghan U19 1st Semi-Final 2021/22

Report

Rehan three-for in the penultimate over helps England crawl out of difficult position

England 231 for 6 (Bell 56*, Horton 53*, Thomas 50, Noor 2-32) beat Afghanistan 215 for 9 (Allah 60, Ishaq 43, Rehan 4-41) by 15 runs (DLS method)
47 overs a side

The first semi-final between two sets of nervous teenagers had it all. Broken stumps, dropped catches, run-outs, six-hitting cameos, a five-ball over, and a catch off a no-ball. England, though, held their nerves, and despite all their errors, crossed the line to reach their first U-19 World Cup final in 24 years.

Afghanistan, chasing a spot in their very first ICC World Cup final, lost in some key moments. After getting England six down for only 136, Afghanistan could not end the innings well with the ball, conceding 95 in the last 12 overs. And then, two of their top four batters were out for ducks in the 231 chase.

Then late in the contest, Afghanistan were offered a back door pass into the match when England seamer James Sales had a horrific start to the 44th over of the chase. At that stage, Afghanistan needed 43 in four overs, but Sales conceded 10 runs courtesy two no-balls even before delivering a legal ball, and by the end of the 44th, Afghanistan needed 23 off 18.

However, left-arm seamer Joshua Boyden bowled a tight 45th, and legspinner Rehan Ahmed took three wickets in the 46th to book England’s seat in the final on February 4 against either India or Australia.

It was a brave call from England captain Tom Prest to bat first in cloudy conditions, and the opener George Thomas rode on some good fortune to smack a 69-ball 50. He survived getting dropped by Noor Ahmad, but the Afghan left-arm wristspinner eventually got him out.

Thomas’, wicket, though was England’s fourth, and he had seen Jacob Bethell, Prest and James Rew fall for meagre contributions before him. Naveed Zadran and Nangeyalia Kharote had made the early breakthroughs and when legspinner Izharulhaq Naveed dismissed William Luxton for 11. When Rehan fell after a 44-ball resistance, England were 136 for 6 and in trouble.

That’s when George Bell and Alex Horton linked up to drag England to 231. Bell was more orthodox of the two, and hit six fours in his unbeaten 56. Horton smacked a breezy 36-ball 53 to really give England the momentum at the break.

more to follow…

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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