Afghanistan ended their ICC U19 Cricket World Cup campaign on a high as victory over the hosts saw them finish seventh in South Africa.
An unbeaten half-century from Ibrahim Zadran featured in the successful run chase after they bowled the Junior Proteas out for 154 thanks to Shafiqullah Ghafari’s four-wicket haul.
Having won the toss and elected to bat in the 7th Place Play-Off, South Africa suffered a stuttering start and lost three early wickets, including captain Bryce Parsons (6), who ends the tournament with 265 runs in six matches.
The hosts soon experienced another setback when Jonathan Bird was struck by a fierce delivery on the elbow from Abdul Rahman (two for 47), forcing the left-hander to retire hurt on 17.
Reeling on 44 for three after the opening ten overs, Luke Beaufort (19) and Tyrese Karelse (10) steadied the ship with a promising stand before Ghafari wreaked havoc in the middle order.
The spinner, who took figures of six for 15 in the opening game against the same opponents, claimed three wickets in succession to dismiss Karelse, Beaufort and Khanya Cotani (3).
An important 51-run, eighth-wicket stand between Merrick Brett (28) and Mondli Khumalo (26) helped the home side into triple figures before a late cameo from the returning Bird (34) carried South Africa to a competitive total.
Ghafari finished with leading figures of four for 15 as he ended the tournament with 16 wickets, while Fazal Farooqi contributed with three for 33.
In their response, Afghanistan made light work of their pursuit of the target, with Sediq Atal (40) the aggressor in his opening partnership with Zadran, dispatching four fours and three sixes to help his team take control of the proceedings.
Despite the latter falling to Parsons (one for 26) and with fellow spinner, Odirile Modimokoane (two for 37) picking up two more scalps, Zadran and Abdul Rahman (27) put on a partnership worth 86 runs to edge their side towards the winning late
Zadran recorded a patient 73 off 113 deliveries, with seven fours, to anchor his team as they strolled to victory with almost ten overs to go.
“The way I get wickets, especially against South Africa, is to keep it very simple and to not overthink things. I focused on my line and length, and the basics worked well for me,” commented the Man of the Match, Ghafari.
Super League Final on the line for Bangladesh and New Zealand
Neither Bangladesh nor New Zealand have won the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup but both countries are just two games away from making history in South Africa.
India have already secured their place in the Super League Final with their opponents set to be decided in Super League Semi Final 2 at the JB Marks Oval.
New Zealand have already faced off with India in the pool stages, coming off second best on that occasion but growing in both confidence and performance through their subsequent games.
Having qualified second in Group A, Jesse Tashkoff’s side produced yet another superb late showing to beat West Indies in the Super League Quarter Final.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, have yet to lose a game in South Africa after their last group-stage match with Pakistan was abandoned without a ball bowled.
They then went on to overcome the hosts to reach the last four, putting themselves within one victory of their best performance in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup having finished third in 2016.
The victor of this match will return to Potchefstroom on 9 February to face India in the Super League Final, pitting the tournament’s most successful side in history against a team bidding to become first-time winners.
The country that misses out will face head to Willowmoore Park, Benoni, to face Pakistan in the 3rd Place Play-Off on 8 February.
Scores in brief
Afghanistan Under 19s beat South Africa Under 19s by five wickets, Willowmoore Park, Benoni
South Africa 154 all out, 39.3 overs (Jonathan Bird 34; Shafiqullah Ghafari 4-15, Fazal Haq 3-33)
Afghanistan 158-5, 40.2 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 73 not out, Sediq Atal 40; Odirile Modimokoane 2-37)
ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 Fixtures
Super League Semi Final 2: 6 February: New Zealand v Bangladesh, JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom
5th Place Play-Off: 7 February: West Indies v Australia, Willowmoore Park, Benoni
3rd Place Play-Off: 8 February: Pakistan v Loser of Super League Semi Final 2, Willowmoore Park, Benoni
Super League Final: 9 February: India v Winner of Super League Semi Final 2, JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom