West Indies Under-19s ended up stunning over 10,000 fans at the Shere Bangla Stadium by chasing down 227, with three wickets in hand, in an anxious fashion against Bangladesh Under-19s in the semi-final of the Under-19 World Cup.
West Indies were cruising at 147 for 3 and seemed to be buckle under pressure after captain Shimron Hetmyer fell for 60. They lost two more wickets for 34 runs but were salvaged by Shamar Springer’s unbeaten 62 after his incisive spell of 10-0-36-2. West Indies will make their second appearance in an Under-19 World Cup final when they take on India Under-19s in Mirpur on Sunday.
The West Indies chase started in the usual aggressive mode when Gidron Pope clobbered 14 runs in the first over. He continued to attack and was dropped on 23 in the fourth over before he took his team to an intimidating 56 for 2 in seven overs. After Pope fell for 38, Hetmyer led the charge just like his counterpart Mehedi Hasan Miraz had done earlier in the day, with a measured knock in the company of Keacy Carty. The required run rate was just under four when they got together and they carried out their partnership of 62 in composed fashion.
They had no difficulty playing the spinners and Hetmyer brought up his second straight fifty but his dismissal in the 28th over threatened to tilt the game the other way. Springer was joined by Jyd Goolie and with no scoreboard pressure to face, they took the score past 175 until left-arm spinner Saleh Ahmed Shawon struck twice in four balls and West Indies were still 46 adrift with four wickets in hand.
Springer was still there, and he and Michael Frew ran well to steal ones and twos in a patient stand of 36 in 8.2 overs. Bangladesh struck again when Mohammad Saifuddin removed Frew for 12 but Springer’s presence saw them through as he hit the winning runs with eight balls to spare.
Bangladesh showed signs of nervousness too. They dropped Springer when he was on 15, fumbled when they shouldn’t have and conceded overthrows when the match was in the balance, possibly feeling the pressure of playing in front of a massive crowd that had gathered in Mirpur.
Earlier, Mehedi had to rescue his team again from a precarious position, just like he had done in the quarter-final against Nepal Under-19s. He forged an 85-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Mohammed Saifuddin, lifting the side from 113 for 5 to close to 200.
West Indies’ opening bowlers, Alzarri Joseph and Chemar Holder, started poorly after the hosts opted to bat. They conceded nine extras out of the total of 10 in the first two overs but later succeeded in removing the openers by the seventh over. They continued their barrage of short deliveries with varying lines, while Bangladesh found the odd boundary.
Just when Bangladesh were looking to lift the run rate after the first Powerplay, they lost Nazmul Hossain Shanto, their best batsman in the tournament so far, for 11 and medium-pacers Ryan John and Springer then choked the flow of runs. Joyraz Sheik, who was dropped off a tough chance on 6, led them on even as Zakir Hasan struggled to rotate the strike. Sheik, however, dragged one onto his off stump and Zakir was bowled once Holder was brought back for his second spell.
Mehedi eased the flow of runs and pulled his team out of trouble once the spinners Jyd Goolie, Pope and Frew came on, relying on plenty of back-foot strokes. Once the hosts looked comfortable, the spinners sent down more loose deliveries and the fielders started to misfield, too.
Saifuddin played a more patient role in the partnership with Mehedi and was content giving strike to the captain, who brought up his fifty off 63 balls. Their comfort ended in the 45th over. Pacer Keemo Paul, who had injured himself while fielding earlier, came on in the 46th over and struck off consecutive deliveries to remove both set batsmen and hurt Bangladesh’s chances of a total close to 240. Springer was economical in the slog overs, too, and a couple of fours and a six from the tail pushed Bangladesh past 220. They were dismissed for 226 off the last ball of the innings.
(Taken from ESPN Sports Media Ltd.)