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Sri Lanka outplays South Africa to set up semi-final against Australia

Sri Lanka Under19 Cricket team
Sri Lanka Under19 Cricket squad for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2010. Click image for credits.

Lincoln, New Zealand, Jan 24 (ICC): Sri Lanka outsmarted South Africa by 146 runs to set-up a semi-final against Australia which defeated host New Zealand by 62 runs in the other quarter-final of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2010 on Sunday.

Sri Lanka’s victory was set up by an outstanding batting display. Sent in by South Africa, and despite losing a wicket in the seventh over, Sri Lanka showed purpose and commitment to score 293-8 with man-of-the-match Banuka Rajapaksa putting up another good batting performance.

Hitting over the top and driving elegantly on the off side, Rajapaksa top-scored with 79 off 78 balls including ten boundaries in his attractive innings.

Rumesh Buddika (42) was an excellent foil for Rajapaksa as the two left-handers put on 90 runs for the third wicket in 16 overs.

Kithruwan Vithange (45 off 50 balls) and Akshu Fernando (28) continued the aggressive Sri Lanka approach, and with lower-order cameos from skipper Chatura Peiris (19) and Danishka Gunathillike (28 not out), the Asian side ended its 50 overs on 293-8.

In reply, South Africa lost two wickets by the sixth over when rain fell and briefly sent the players from the field.

On their return, captain and opener, Josh Richards, hit some lively cover drives in his 52-ball 43 as he and Colin Ackerman (21) attempted to reignite the South African reply. However, once the pair was dismissed after putting on 50 runs for the third wicket, South Africa’s innings fell apart as it lost its last eight wickets for 74 runs to be bowled out for 145 in 36.4 overs.

Sri Lanka’s fielding display in cold and windy conditions was impeccable and left-arm fast bowler Charith Jayampathi captured four top order batsmen to provide the finishing touches to a victory that the batsmen had set up earlier in the day.

Man-of-the-match Rajapaksa said the win had set the side up well for the clash against Australia. “Heading into the semi-final we feel more confident playing Australia than New Zealand,” he said. “Their fielding is very good and their bowling is very good but we played them in a five-match series before this World Cup and won 3-2, so we are confident.”

At Rangiora, the much-anticipated clash between host New Zealand and Australia drew a large crowd but they left disappointed as the Kiwis were outplayed by a dominating Australia side.

Australia made a strong start to its innings – thanks to opener Nic Maddinson and man-of-the-match Mitchell Marsh who compiled a second-wicket partnership of 69 runs. Marsh hit seven fours in a 59-ball 53 before he was run-out by a brilliant piece of fielding from Harry Boam.

Maddinson (37), Tim Armstrong (39) and Alex Keath (32) all made even contributions in the middle of the innings to lift Australia to 232-8.

In reply, New Zealand’s big-hitters failed to gain traction and with rain threatening, the batsmen tried to force the pace to keep up with the required run-rate. None were able to get on top of a disciplined bowling attack and as wickets continued to fall so did their chance of victory.

New Zealand was eventually dismissed for 170 in the 44th over.

Australia captain Marsh said the win, in front of a big crowd, was a great experience. “Our goal was to have a good partnership at the top of the innings,” he said. “In one-day cricket that’s the most important thing – and we thought 230 was a pretty competitive total on that wicket.

“I thought we bowled extremely well at the end. We knew that if we kept on taking wickets the run-rate was going to start creeping up, and the boys kept on taking wickets which was the key.”

Meanwhile, in the Plate Championship quarter-finals, Papua New Guinea overcame a determined Afghanistan side by 30 runs to progress to the semi-finals where it will meet Bangladesh which comfortably dispatched Hong Kong by four wickets.

Today’s results mean Sri Lanka will face Australia in the Super League semi-final on Wednesday while Papua New Guinea and Bangladesh will meet in the Plate Championship semi-finals on Tuesday.

Monday’s big game will be the first Super League semi-final between Pakistan and the West Indies, to be televised live by ESPN STAR Sports from the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln.

Pakistan goes into the match as the only unbeaten team remaining in the hunt for the major trophy.

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