U-19 WORLD CUP: Centurion Joy leads Bangladesh to maiden final

SUMMARY: Bangladesh Under-19 215-4 (Joy 100, Shahadat 40*) beat New Zealand Under-19 211-8 (Wheeler-Greenall 75, Lidstone 44, Islam 3-45, Shamim 2-31) by six wickets


Mahmudul Hasan Joy ended his run of poor scores with his fourth Youth ODI century to secure Bangladesh’s maiden World Cup final – across levels and genders – for the Under-19 tournament against India on February 9.

Joy’s hundred helped Bangladesh chase down 212 with six wickets in hand and nearly six overs to spare, after the bowlers restricted New Zealand to 211 for 8 in Potchefstroom.

Joy had a best score of 38* in his last eight innings and the early departure of Bangladesh’s openers on Thursday didn’t make things any easier for him. He still anchored the chase by striking 13 fours in his 127-ball innings of 100 and was assisted by No. 4 Towhid Hridoy, who made a brisk 47-ball 40, and the No. 5 Shahadat Hossain, who stayed unbeaten on 40.

Captain Akbar Ali scored the winning runs with a drive past mid-on in front of a sizeable Bangladesh-supporting crowd that had come from cities near and far.

That Bangladesh chased a total under 250 was courtesy of their all-round bowling performance that continuously pegged New Zealand’s scoring rate. Asked to bat, New Zealand struggled with their tempo and if it wasn’t for Beckham Wheeler-Greenall‘s 83-ball 75, they would have finished with a much smaller total, having been reduced to 142 for 6 at one point.

Left-arm seamer Shoriful Islam took 3 for 45, right-arm quick Shamim Hossain ended with 2 for 31 and left-arm orthodox spinner Hasan Murad finished with 2 for 34 under overcast conditions in the morning.

Mahmudul Hasan Joy receives his Man-of-the-Match award from former South Africa international JP Duminy (Photo: ICC)

The sun then baked the Senwes Park deck as the chase began, making batting much easier. Joy and Hridoy added 68 for the third wicket to take Bangladesh to 100. Once Hridoy was stumped off Adithya Ashok, Joy dominated a 101-run stand with Shahadat to take Bangladesh past 200.

He reached his hundred by sweeping Jesse Tashkoff for four in the 43rd over but fell on the very next delivery by handing a return catch to the bowler.

Only 11 runs were left for Bangladesh then, and Ali finished the chase to send the crowd into a frenzy. Ali pumped his fist after hitting the winning runs while his team-mates from the dugout ran onto the field with the green-and-red Bangladesh flag to spark the celebrations off.

Bangladesh began their choke of New Zealand’s batting right from the first over when Shoriful began the day with a maiden. The following over from Shamim yielded the wicket of opener Rhys Mariu, who edged a drive to slip. Rakibul Hasan then removed the other opener, Ollie White, who edged a drive to the wicketkeeper in the 12th over.

While the third-wicket partnership lasted nine overs, New Zealand added only 28 runs in that period, after which Fergus Lellman and Tashkoff fell in quick succession, leaving them at 74 for 4 in the 26th over. Wheeler-Greenall then turned aggressive after a sedate start to push New Zealand towards a respectable total, but wickets around him forced him to rein his stroke-play on some occasions.

He reached his second fifty of the tournament – by hitting two fours off Murad in the 44th over, and helped New Zealand collect 19 in the last over to stretch the score past 200. Wheeler-Greenall was a class apart on the day. He scored his 75 runs at a strike rate of 90.36, while the other nine batsmen scored their 122 runs at a strike rate of 56.

“The toss played a big role today,” New Zealand coach Paul Wiseman said after the game. “Bangladesh had a good start with the seamers. The spinners got the ball to grip, and after that, we were always scrambling.

“When we were 75 for 4, we would’ve probably taken 210-220. But obviously fantastic effort from the Bangladesh batsmen. [A] very mature innings by the centurion; he played us with ease. That took the game away from us.”

New Zealand now face Pakistan in the third-place playoff on February 8. (ESPNCricinfo)

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