Top of the table

young Windies head group stage going into WC quarterfinals

QUEENSLAND – West Indies maintained their 100 per cent record and commanded top spot in Group C of the International Cricket Council’s Under-19 World Cup by beating Zimbabwe for their third victory in three matches in Townsville, Queensland, last night.

The Windies fast bowlers struck early and there was no easing of pressure from the spinners either, as Zimbabwe were limited to a below-par total of 148 on a small ground at Endeavour Park.

The West Indian chase, however, did not begin smoothly – they lost two wickets in the third over – but captain Kraigg Brathwaite stayed firm at his end to see the chase through.

The only Test batsman in the tournament, Brathwaite was undefeated on 70 when the target was achieved in the 36th over. West Indies will now face New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

“You don’t play four quicks to bat first,” West Indies coach Roddy Estwick said after his team had won the toss. Ronsford Beaton led the attack once again, giving away nothing at his end. In his fourth over, he produced a bouncer that reared up at Luke Masasire and kissed the glove on the way through to the wicketkeeper Sunil Ambris. That was the only wicket Beaton would pick up during an incredibly economical spell of 9-4-9-1. Two balls later, left-arm fast bowler Jerome Jones got Matthew Bentley nicking to Ambris as well.

All-rounder Kyle Mayers could have had Ryan Burl in his first over but Kavem Hodge dropped the top-edged hook at third man. Mayers got Kevin Kasuza instead, bowled by a straight ball that the batsman played across to.

Burl went on to play a proper hook against Justin Greaves, hitting the ball over the boundary of the adjacent ground, where India were batting against Papua New Guinea. He didn’t last long, though, and was caught behind for 13.

Zimbabwe continued to struggle against pace and also against spin. The left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein bowled three maidens in his 10-over spell of 2 for 16. His first wicket was that of Malcolm Lake, who had scored a blistering century against India. Lake was Zimbabwe’s top scorer once again, making 31 before chipping the ball back to Hosein in the 32nd over. The tail managed to survive through to 50 overs, finishing on 148 for 8. West Indies conceded 24 runs in extras, 18 of those through wides.

Brathwaite glanced the first ball of the chase off his pads to the fine-leg boundary, and then watched two of his team-mates play loose shots. Ambris, who had destroyed Papua New Guinea at this venue, pulled a short ball from Kieran Geyle – who was bowling left-arm spin – straight to deep-square leg. The next ball, John Campbell slogged wildly across the line and top-edged to short third man. West Indies were 6 for 2 in the third over.

Although he took those early wickets, Geyle dropped far too short, allowing Brathwaite to pull him repeatedly to the midwicket boundary. The West Indies captain lost two more partners cheaply, but remained unfazed. He was dropped during his half-century, by Andre Odendaal off leg-spinner Peacemore Zimwa at mid-on, but West Indies were well on course by then. Mayers struck some powerful blows to accelerate the chase on the home straight and knock Zimbabwe out of the World Cup.

Meanwhile, India (204) secured second place in Group C with a comfortable 107-run victory against Papua New Guinea (97), their second in three games. Ravikant Singh led the efficient bowling performance, taking 5 for 21, which made up for a weak effort with the bat against inexperienced opposition. India will now face Pakistan in a quarterfinal at the Tony Ireland Stadium.

In other action, Pakistan (153 for 5) sealed an easy win over New Zealand (152 for 8) in Buderim to make it three victories in a row. Each of Pakistan’s five bowlers picked up at least one wicket, as New Zealand’s decision to bat first backfired.

England secured their passage to the quarter-finals by routing Nepal in Townsville. The wicketkeeper Ben Foakes made a sprightly 92 to underpin a first innings tally of 274 for 7, before Shozair Ali and Reece Topley shared seven wickets to round up the Nepalese for 148, despite a composed innings of 55 at the top of the order by Subash Khakurel.

Bangladesh (155 for 3) confirmed a quarter-final clash with Australia, beating Namibia (151) by seven wickets in Brisbane. The win meant Bangladesh finished the group stage at No. 2 on the Group D points table, behind South Africa but ahead of Sri Lanka.

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