U19s beat Papua New Guinea
Canada 265/8 (Gill 120) beat Papua New Guinea 185 (Atai 81; Pathmanathan 3/23, Jamkhandi 3/42) by 80 runs
A superb century from Akash Gill helped Canada recover from 82/4 to post 265/8 – their highest ICC U19 CWC total – in their Plate Quarter-Final against Papua New Guinea before their bowlers combined to restrict their opponents to 185 and secure passage to the Plate Semi-Final.
PNG had won the toss and elected to bowl, hoping to gain an early advantage in their stronger suit, and for a while the decision seemed to be paying off, with Canada struggling early on, losing both openers within nine overs. James Tau bowled Emanuel Khokar with one that just nipped away, while Pranav Sharma looked secure before chipping one to cover point.
That brought captain and vice-captain together, and it initially seemed as if Arslan Khan and Akash Gill would put on a repeat of their match-winning 110-run partnership against Namibia. The former, having been forced to retire hurt with a hamstring injury against England, showed no signs of injuries affecting him and looked fluent, his innings including a pair of imperious flicks through and over the leg side.
He was therefore understandably distraught when he picked out mid on after making 35, only managing to drag himself off the field after 10 seconds on his haunches, and would have been more so when new man Kevin Singh, desperate to get off the mark, attempted a risky single and ran himself out to leave Canada in the mire at 82/4.
That brought Ashtan Deosammy to the crease, and though he rarely looked settled, relying on release shots rather than scoring freely, his 35 was vital as he and Gill added 104. Also important was Aran Pathmanathan’s 23, which helped drag Canada past 250.
But to focus on the cameos would be to miss the main story, which was Akash Gill’s magnificent 120. With a fluid, long-levered style, he played with a grace and timing that belied the match situation, and only betrayed nerves when reaching his century. But upon reaching the landmark he accelerated, striking 20 off his next eight balls before being bowled truing to make it 24 off nine.
It was Canada’s first-ever U19 CWC century, driving Canada to their highest-ever U19 CWC total, and it was an innings entirely deserving of the honour, but for a moment at the beginning of the second innings it appeared it might have been in vain, as openers Simon Atai and Igo Mahuru added 68 for the first wicket, with one lofted straight drive from Atai drawing whoops from the PNG dressing room.
Canada however didn’t panic, didn’t search for wickets, and instead opted to tie their opponents down and wait for a rash shot, and it worked to perfection as Mahuru, having struggled to 19 off 41, aimed a wild swing at Faisal Jamkhandi and was caught at mid off.
The lone hand of resistance came from Simon Atai, who made 81 before falling trying to up the rate, but the squeeze was total – at one point PNG went 18 overs without a boundary, and struck just two from the end of the 20th over. Aran Pathmanathan led the way, at one point boasting figures of 5-2-3-0 on his way to a three wicket haul, but this was a team effort. Canada held on to their catches, pounced in when a quick single might have been taken, and didn’t panic when the wickets weren’t coming. It was a consummate team performance.
Canada now play in the plate semi final on Friday (Thursday in Canada).