Marsh helps Australia sneak into World Cup final
Australia U-19 206 for 8 (Marsh 97, Triffitt 50, Jayampathi 3-34) beat Sri Lanka U-19 205 (Fernando 52, Hazlewood 4-26) by 2 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The captain Mitchell Marsh's impressive 97 set up Australia's entry into the Under-19 World Cup final, but not before they were given a huge fright by a committed Sri Lanka. On a tense day it was Australia's first-class players who had the major impact, with Marsh backing up the effective bowling of Josh Hazlewood and Alister McDermott, as they sneaked to 206 for 8 with nine balls to spare.
Sri Lanka were dismissed for 205 after being 32 for 5 while Australia also had trouble in their chase, falling to 38 for 3 before Marsh swung the game Australia's way with 12 fours in his 110-ball stay. However, when Marsh fell to a brilliant diving catch from Rumesh Buddika, the left-arm spinner, his side was a nervous 171 for 6.
Hazlewood walked off with 26 still needed and Tom Triffitt, the wicketkeeper who had been so solid, fell with four still required when bowled by Charith Jayampathi (3 for 34) for a highly-valuable 50 off 70. Australia went 13 balls without a run before the scores were leveled and Luke Doran scampered the winning single after hitting to mid-off.
Australia won the World Cup in New Zealand in 2001-02 and have the chance to repeat their success against Pakistan, who beat West Indies, when they line up on Bert Sutcliffe Oval on Saturday. Sri Lanka will have to be satisfied with the third-place play-off.
The chase did not start well for Australia and when Alex Keath (7) played on to a tentative defensive shot from Jayampathi, who already had Nic Maddinson lbw in the second over, they were three-down and in major discomfort. There was a rally before Jason Floros (21) made the mistake of stepping back and being bowled by the offspinner Rushan Jaleel, while Tim Armstrong was also bowled off an inside edge, leaving them at a worrying 93 for 5.
It would have been even worse if the wicketkeeper had caught the ball when Marsh was short of his ground in the over he reached a 57-ball half-century. Marsh stayed calm until the end of his innings and showed why he is so highly rated by Western Australia. He drove two fours in the same over off Jayampathi to give him some confidence early in the innings and was on track for his century when he pulled and lofted boundaries off Jayampathi to take him into the 90s.
The innings was the most accomplished of the match and followed a fine recovery from Sri Lanka's lower order after their main men were run over in an outstanding opening from Hazlewood, who plays for New South Wales, and Queensland's McDermott. Both fast bowlers have troubled first-class batsmen in their short domestic careers and the Sri Lankans were unable to deal with the extra pace and bounce on a surface with some early life.
McDermott struck the first two blows after Sri Lanka won the toss, picking up Andri Berenger (10) at first slip before Bhanuka Rajapaksa (7) edged an attempted drive, which was caught low down by Tom Beaton at second slip. Five balls later Jayasundera was lbw playing back to Hazlewood, sending Sri Lanka to 23 for 3, a situation which soon became much worse. Hazlewood got one to angle away and rise sharply to Buddika (3), who nicked to the wicketkeeper Triffitt, and Hazlewood removed Jayampathi in a similar way in his next over.
Kithuruwan Vithanage started the rebuild with Akshu Fernando and the valuable contributions were able to lift Sri Lanka to a respectable total. Vithanage fell on 40 to a fine leaping catch from Floros at fine leg, but Fernando found useful allies in Dhanushka Gunathilleke (11) and Peiris (39).
Fernando was happy to take singles - both his fours came with drives in the same over off Nick Buchanan - and when he exited with 52 off 88 to a soft sweep to short fine leg, the side was in much better shape. Hazlewood returned to end the innings and collected 4 for 26 off 8.2 overs while McDermott, Buchanan and Doran chipped in with two wickets each.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo