Sharjah - The Coca-Cola South Africa under-19s cruised into the semifinals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup when they beat Afghanistan by nine wickets in Sharjah on Sunday.
Skipper, Aiden Markram, scored 105 not out to lead his side to victory and, along with Kirwin Christoffels (56*), shared an unbeaten 158-run partnership for the second wicket.
Afghanistan were bowled out for 197 with just one ball remaining of their innings. Their captain, Nasir Agmadzai top-scored with 61, with Usman Ghani and Ihsanullah adding 36 and 30 respectively.
Justin Dill was once again the pick of the bowlers, taking four wickets for 40 in 8.5 overs. Yaseen Valli did not get a chance to bat, but still contributed with the ball, taking 2/26 in his 10-over spell, with Kagiso Rabada also claiming a pair for 32. A sharp fielding effort also saw two run outs secured.
South Africa’s reply was swift and marred only by the removal of Clyde Fortuin for 32 at a run a ball in the 10th over. Markram’s century came off 118 balls, while Christoffels took 87 balls to reach his 56.
The young Proteas are delighted to have reached the semis.
“We played clinical cricket today,” Markram said. “It was really good to see the guys executing the game plans that we discussed and making every opportunity count. The bowlers really set us up nicely and made it easier for the batsmen to come in and do what needed to be done.”
“On a personal note, I’m very happy to have scored another 100. There were times at the start of the tournament when I was a little frustrated with myself, but I’m glad that I’m peaking at the right time for the team.”
The side now look to the semifinal on Wednesday where they will take on Australia, whom South Africa lost against at the same stage in the 2012 World Cup in Townsville, Australia.
“There’s a bit of history there,” Markram continued. “We’ll definitely be looking to avenge the last World Cup squad, but more than anything we want to win this for South Africa. Our country deserves an ICC trophy.”