Dill, Markram take SA into semis
South Africa Under-19s 198 for 1 (Markram 105*, Christoffels 56*) beat Afghanistan Under-19s 197 (Nasir Jamal 61, Dill 4-40)
A four-wicket haul from the medium-pacer Justin Dill, and an an unbeaten century from the captain Aiden Markram powered South Africa Under-19s into the semi-finals of the Under-19 World Cup after they thumped Afghanistan Under-19s by nine wickets in Sharjah.
Afghanistan, batting first, began slowly as Kagiso Rabada removed the opener Mohammad Mujtaba for a duck in the third over, but Usman Ghani and Ihsanullah counterattacked with a quick 46-run stand. Ghani blasted five fours and two sixes in his 30-ball 36, while Ihsanullah was more patient at the other end, taking 60 deliveries for his 30.
However, wickets at regular intervals from Dill and Yaseen Valli stalled Afghanistan's slow progress. The Afghanistan captain Nasir Jamal top-scored with 61, but none of the batsmen lasted long enough at the other end to build any substantial partnerships. Dill eventually finished with four scalps to take his tally in the tournament to 10, the joint second-highest, while Rabada and Valli shared four dismissals between them to restrict Afghanistan to 197.
South Africa lost Clyde Fortuin for a run-a-ball 32 during the chase, but suffered no other casualty as Markram and Kirwin Christoffels combined for an unbroken second-wicket stand which yielded 158 runs. Markram finished on 105 not out, his second consecutive ton, while Christoffels remained unbeaten on 56 to collect his second half-century of the tournament.
Markram said his second hundred was a sign that he was peaking at the right time for the team. The captain also expressed his satisfaction with the 'clinical' execution of plans against Afghanistan.
"We played clinical cricket today," Markram said. "It was really good to see the guys executing the game plans that we discussed and making every opportunity count. The bowlers really set us up nicely and made it easier for the batsmen to come in and do what needed to be done.
"On a personal note, I'm very happy to have scored another 100. There were times at the start of the tournament when I was a little frustrated with myself, but I'm glad that I'm peaking at the right time for the team."
South Africa will now play Australia Under-19s in the second semi-final in Dubai on Wednesday, a match with interesting context given their clash in the last Under-19 World Cup. In 2012, the teams clashed in the semi-final and Australia marched into the final with a four-wicket win. According to Markram, avenging that loss would be an important goal for the team.
"There's a bit of history there," he said. "We'll definitely be looking to avenge the last World Cup squad, but more than anything we want to win this for South Africa. Our country deserves an ICC trophy."