U19: Afghanistan
Afghanistan Under-19 boys (red) are ecstatic at the fall of the last Sri Lankan wicket, ensuring their entry in the semi-finals. Image Credit: Twitter/ICC

Antigua: A clinical performance with the ball, aided by smart fielding, helped Afghanistan shock Sri Lanka by just four runs in a low-scoring match and secure a place in the Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final at the Coolidge Cricket Ground, here on Friday.

Afghanistan have become the second team after England to book a place in the Super League last-four of the tournament.

Despite only setting a target of 135 after being bundled out in 47.1 overs, Suliman Safi’s side stood up to the challenge of defending a meagre total, bowling out Sri Lanka for just 130 with four overs to spare.

Sri Lanka captain Dunith Wellalage’s composed late spell at the crease (34 off 61 balls) raised hopes of a win, but it was not meant to be as Afghanistan edged the low-scoring thriller to reach the final four, matching their achievement from the 2018 tournament in New Zealand.

They will now face England in the first Super League semifinal at the Sir Viv Richards Cricket Ground on February 1.

Wellalage’s team elected to bowl after the winning the toss. Afghanistan openers Nangeyalia Kharote and Bilal Sayedi looked solid for the first 10 overs before Traveeen Mathew struck with a vicious delivery that removed Sayedi. Kharote departed in the very next over and when skipper Suliman Safi was trapped leg before after making just one, Afghanistan were in trouble.

Ijaz Ahmadzai lost his wicket without moving the scoreboard, but fellow middle-order batter Abdul Hadi was able to steady the innings with a crucial knock. The left-hander came to the crease with his team struggling, but he managed to make 37, including four boundaries, before he was stumped after a clever delivery from Dunith Wellalage.

The Sri Lankan reply was shaky. Opener Sadisha Rajapaksa went for a duck in the opening over, and Shevon Daniel went for just two after he was clean bowled by Bilal Sami.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 134 in 47.1 overs (Abdul Hadi 37, Noor Ahmad 30; Vinuja Ranpul 5/10) beat Sri Lanka 130 in 46 overs (Dunith Wellalage 34; Bilal Sami 2/33) by four runs.