Doran happy with 99* and win
Jake Doran was the difference between Australia Under-19s being bowled out and batting out 50 overs, gluing a faltering innings together with an unbeaten 99 against Bangladesh Under-19s in Abu Dhabi. It was a last-minute scramble for Doran to score his first century in U-19 one-dayers for Australia but he was happy to let the team's cause take precedence over the individual milestone.
Australia weren't guaranteed a semi-final spot after their previous match against Afghanistan turned out to be a banana peel. They were up against another Asian team in their final league game and needed to win to stay in the race for the quarter-finals. Tom Andrews, batting at No. 8, chose to try and get the maximum out of every ball he faced in the final over, which went for 21, rather than feel obliged to give Doran the strike. Australia ended with 244 and it turned out to be a match-winning score.
"I just put the team first and said to him 'if you can hit straight sixes go for it mate, I'm not stopping you,'" Doran said. "We ended up with 21 in that over and that could have been the difference in the match and luckily that wasn't needed."
Doran came in at the fall of the second wicket, on 22, but his temperament was tested when his side was at a wobbly 61 for 4 in the 20th over. Doran then shared stands of 105, 45 and 33 for the next three wickets to take the initiative away from Bangladesh.
"The plan was to try and keep wickets in hand," Doran said. "(The pitch) was a bit hard to get in on. Once you get in you try to make the most of it."
There was a three-way tie for two quarter-final slots in Group C, between Australia, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Doran said the plan was to go for a win and gain two points to feel more secure. Australia did just that and topped their group on net run rate.
"Most of the boys were trying for the win. Trying to get two wins here is pretty important," he said. "We knew that if we got the second win, we'd be in the top three, if not top two which we are which is good."
Doran, who turned 17 last December, is one of the younger players in the squad. He was picked to face the touring English side for Cricket Australia Chairman's XI at Alice Springs in November, scoring 17. Did he feel any extra pressure or the weight of expectations coming in?
"I think the more expectations are the ones that I have put on myself," he said. "Think if I relaxed and let it be, days like today will come a bit more. My family have been saying to relax and keep things simple and that's what I've been doing."
Australia now head to Dubai where they will meet West Indies on February 23.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo