Christchurch: Australia eased into the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Christchurch with a resounding 93-run victory over West Indies at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval on Thursday.
The result preserved Australia's 100 per cent record in the competition and it enters Saturday's final against South Africa as firm favourites after being a cut above the other sides throughout the tournament. "We are delighted with the way the tournament has gone," coach Wayne Phillips said. "The boys played very well and they are going into the final feeling confident. Everything has fallen pretty well for us. We have a number of players who are in form with both bat and ball, and if that continues we will look to have a good competitive match on Saturday," he said. "We see South Africa as worthwhile opponents but if we play well we know will have a chance of beating them." Australia has hardly been pushed at any stage of the competition and against West Indies in the rain delayed semi-final they cruised to victory with 10 overs to spare despite a classy 83 from Tonito Willett. Heavy rain made play impossible on Wednesday but the weather improved on the reserve day and despite the damp conditions Australia batted first and made 252 for eight. West Indies made an early breakthrough when burly pace bowler Ryan Nurse had Jarrad Burke caught at cover for four, but Shaun Marsh and Craig Simmons added 59 for the second wicket as Australia recovered. Simmons was dropped on 10 at first slip by Narsingh Deonarine off Nurse, and the mistake was to prove costly as the left-hander went on to make 84. He lost partner Marsh for 19 when he drove lazily to mid-wicket off left-arm spinner Alcindo Ingram. Captain Cameron White continued his rich vein of form as he and Simmons provided the backbone of the Australian innings with a partnership worth 105 for the third wicket. Simmons cut superbly and White was rarely ruffled as West Indies toiled for a breakthrough. A slip in concentration cost Simmons his wicket when he charged at off spinner Shane Shillingford's third ball and was stumped. White fell in similar fashion to Holder for 64 as Australia reached 198 for four. Australia suffered a mini-collapse as the West Indies spin attack bowled a disciplined line and length to induce mistakes from the batsmen, taking three wickets for 37 runs to arrest its opponents' run rate. Wicket-keeper Adam Crosthwaite took the score past 250 with Nurse claiming tidy figures of two for 35. West Indies opener Donovan Pagon had a fruitful tournament but he failed to produce the match-winning innings his side needed as both openers were removed with the score on 21. Willett played a responsible innings and teamed up with captain Deonarine to put on 81 for the third wicket as the West Indies recovered from its early set backs. However Australia's four-pronged spin attack, spearheaded by left-armers Xavier Doherty and Beau Casson, held sway as West Indies lost its last seven wickets for 27 runs. West Indies coach Gus Logie was delighted by his team reaching the last four, but admitted Australia has set the standard to which the other sides must aspire. "We have been playing short of our best and got this far by defending small totals," he said. "The players put up a good fight and we have some talented boys in the squad, but we have to work harder and toughen up mentally. At this level it is all about the players gaining experience and good preparation for the future. "I have no doubt that the Australian team is favourite. Throughout the tournament it has set a very high standard for the rest to follow." Meanwhile Nepal became surprise finalists in the Under-19 World Cup Plate Championship after beating Bangladesh by 23 runs on Thursday. The minnows defeated a Test-playing nation for the second time in the tournament and now has the enviable record of losing just once in seven matches. After beating Pakistan in the first round of the competition, Nepal won all three matches in its Plate Championship qualifying group, and dismissed Bangladesh for 157 to set up a meeting with Zimbabwe in Friday's final.
Rain washes out Aus-WI semi-final tie