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Wisden Cricinfo staff
February 29, 2004
Australia 340 for 5 (Harrison 91) beat Ireland 291 (Morgan 65) by 49 runs
The favourites, Australia, have reached the final of the Under-19 Plate Championship, after dispatching a brave but outclassed Irish team in their semi-final at Chittagong.
Australia batted first and the result was never in doubt once they had rattled along to 340 for 5 from their 50 overs. But Ireland took their leave of the competition with their heads held high, as they compiled a fine total of 291 in reply. The openers William Porterfield and Gary Wilson made 48 and 44 respectively, while Eion Morgan capped a fine tournament with 65.
The damage had already been done by that stage, however. Australia are a team on a mission after the humiliation of missing out on the Super League, and once they had won the toss their batsmen went on the rampage. The captain Tim Paine and Theo Doropoulos opened up with a first-wicket stand of 131 in 21 overs, before Matt Harrison took over with a hard-hitting 91 from No. 3.
Ireland's bowlers came in for some punishment, particularly Morgan and Kevin O'Brien, who both conceded more than 70 runs in their 10 overs. But they stuck to their task as well, and Greg Thompson deservedly picked up a couple of wickets.
Australia's total was daunting, but nobody told Wilson. His 48 came from just 36 balls, and with Will Porterfield keeping pace nicely, Ireland were at one stage 117 for 1 in the 20th over. But a mid-innings stutter ensued as Gary Putland bounced back from an early pasting to tear out a pair of quick wickets, including the important scalp of Morgan.
Ireland slipped from 176 for 4 to 230 for 9, and a heavy beating was on the cards. But, in a appropriately resolute final act, Andrew Riddles and Allan Coulter hammered an unbeaten 61 for the tenth wicket in just under eight overs. Riddles made 29 from 33 balls and Coulter 38 from 30, as Ireland remained defiant to the last.
"I am very satisfied with our performances," said Ireland's coach Adrian Birrell. "We did our best to chase the target and started off on course to come close, but we lost our way in the middle order. We hoped to beat at least one full-member country in the tournament but it wasn't to be. It has been a good experience for our players."
Australia's coach Bennett King praised Ireland for their batting. "Ireland played well to reach almost 300 but our bowling wasn't good enough," said King. "I think we will play Bangladesh in the final and I expect that to be a competitive game."
Australia will now play the winner of tomorrow's second semi-final between Scotland and Bangladesh. The Plate Championship final will be held at the Fatullah District Stadium on March 4.
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