Rehan Ahmed three-fer takes England to final

Rehan Ahmed three-fer takes England to final | Acrux Sports

In a rain-hit, 47-overs-a-side World Cup semifinal, England and Afghanistan kept everyone on their toes with their ability to take turns to drag the fixture to their corner. The latest of such a jostle came in 44th over of the chase when Afghanistan were 188 for 6 in response to England's 231/6 [the revised target was 231], in need of one big, miraculous over.

James Sales provided just the opportunity for that. He bowled successive no-balls, overstepping on the first and following it up with a beamer outside the offstump that went for four byes. By the time he completed his first legal delivery of that over, Afghanistan had taken off 10 runs from their target. The rest of that over fetched 10 more runs. It brought down the equation to a very gettable 23 off 18 and put England at the risk of missing their chance to get to the first U19 World Cup final in 24 years. Left-arm quick Joshua Boyden then calmed the now-jangling English nerves with a four-run over, pulling the game a little away from Afghanistan's grasp with 19 now required of 12.

The situation was still understandably tense for both sides, when Tom Prest threw the ball to his leg spinner Rehan Ahmed, who has been one of England's stars with the ball in the tournament. And once again, Rehan delivered in a clutch moment with a three-wicket over that took the sting out of Afghanistan's late, hopeful dash to the final.

It began with a googly to Noor Ahmad, who didn't read it and had to quickly put his attempted pull away, but only ended up lobbing it towards long-on. James Rew covered a lot of ground running forward and putting in a forward dive to complete a catch that came to seal Afghanistan's fate. Rehan picked up his next two off googlies too, getting Izharulhaq Naveed caught in the deep for a second-ball duck and Bilal Sami bowled the following delivery. That incredible over left Afghanistan to get 18 off the final over from Bowden, and finished well short.

The fixture, that was delayed by early onset of showers, before a truncated game got underway. Despite Goerge Thomas's confident start, Afghanistan gave England's top-order a real wobble as they chipped away at wickets to reduce them to 136 for 6 in the 36th over. Afghanistan would've believed they were on course to restricting England to a sub-200 total when George Bell and Alex Horton joined forces for a rearguard stand. Between the two, 11 fours and a six was hit as England scored 95 runs off the last 11.5 overs.

Afghanistan lost opener Nangeyalia kharote in the first over but showed encouraging signs in chase when Mohammad Ishaq and Allah Noor added 93 for the second wicket. A risky decision for a quick single ended this gritty stand, and opened the gates for England to carve open Afghanistan's middle-order. Afghanistan went from 94 for 1 to 106 for 4, handing back the initiative in the game to the bowling side.

Two more partnerships ensued, between Abdul Hadi and Bilal Ahmad and Hadi and Noor Ahmad, but neither could stand the test of time.

Brief Scores: England 231/6 in 47 overs (George Bell 56, Alex Horton 53, George Thomas 50; Noor Ahmad 2-32) beat Afghanistan 215/9 in 47 overs (Allah Noor 60, Mohammad Ishaq 43, Abdul Hadi 37*; Rehan Ahmed 4-41, Thomas Aspinwall 2-37) by 15 runs (DLS Method)