South Africa Under-19s 299 for 8 (Beaufort 85, Parsons 84, Bird 43, Lakra 3-48, Sanchit 3-57) beat UAE Under-19s 112 for 3 in 23.5 overs (Figy 36*, Aravind 31) by 23 runs (DLS method)
Bryce Parsons and Luke Beaufort struck classy half-centuries but it was inclement weather that had the final word in South Africa's game against United Arab Emirates. It ensured the hosts qualifed into the quarterfinals, winning by 23 runs via the DLS method in what was a must-win game for both sides.
UAE were at 112 for 3 after 23.5 overs when a dust storm - and subsequently rain - stopped play at 4pm. The rain relented thereafter, but conditions didn't improve enough for a restart, and the match was called off at 5.30pm, securing South Africa's quarterfinal appointment against Bangladesh on January 30.
Aware that the weather may play a role later in the day, UAE had begun their chase of 300 in blazing fashion, scoring 46 runs inside the first six overs, but they lost both openers within that period. No. 4 Ansh Tandon then fell in the tenth over, after which Jonathan Figy and Kai Smith put on an unbroken 45-run stand for the fourth wicket. Both batsmen were set and enjoying the pace on the ball, but then the weather got in the way.
UAE captain Aryan Lakra felt the game was his team's to be won, had it not been abandoned. He vowed to make an impression in the Plate League, where UAE now find themselves, fighting among the teams that finished in the bottom two of their groups.
"Really heartbreaking for the team," Lakra said at the post-match press conference. "We got pretty close. If it wasn't for DLS, we had two set batters in the crease. If we had the full game, we had enough firepower to chase the total down."
South Africa's innings, of 299 for 8, was set up by the 152-run third-wicket stand between Parsons and Beaufort, their third straight fifty-plus stand of the tournament. Parsons was the aggressor, scoring his 84 off 83 balls, and Beaufort dug in after his dismissal to finish with 85 off 104. South Africa were in a bit of trouble early on, losing openers Jonathan Bird (43) and Khaya Cotani in the 11th over, delivered by left-arm spinner Lakra, but the Parsons-Beaufort stand put them back on track. Fast bowler Sanchit Sharma, who removed both set batsmen, was the star of UAE's bowling performance, finishing with 3 for 57.
South Africa captain Parsons later said his team had learned a lot from their opening-game defeat to Afghanistan, especially with respect to batting against spin. He also looked forward to changing cities and move to Potchefstroom, which traditionally offers a faster surface.
"We've got good memories at Potchefstroom and it's now time to show the world what we can do," Parsons said at his press conference. "We don't know much about Bangladesh, so we need to focus on ourselves.
"The UAE spinners were really good today, so we played them well. Although the quarterfinals will now force every team to reset, we just want to carry on with the momentum. [After the Afghanistan loss] both our next two games were must-wins, so nothing changes for us.
"The boys have shown their character. We bounced back well after the first loss. The boys learned what mistakes they did against Afghanistan and practiced hard. We've shown in the last two games that we can play spin, get big scores, and we need to move away from that Afghanistan defeat."
South Africa's quarterfinal against Bangladesh is scheduled for January 30, while UAE now play Scotland in the Plate League on January 27.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo