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SL U-19 take on Pakistan U-19 in today's semis

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Left:- Dunith Wellalage, Sri Lanka under 19 captain, Right:- Qasim Akram, Pakistan under 19 captain

Sri Lanka under 19’s led by Dunith Wellalage will meet Pakistan in the first semi-final of the Asia Cup Under 19 cricket tourney, planned to play at the ICC Academy Oval I grounds in Dubai today (30).

Sri Lanka youth team playing in Group B, finished second with an unbeaten record while the match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh was called off after one of the on-field umpires tested positive for COVID-19 in Sharjah on Tuesday. The Sri Lanka team had a short training session, yesterday, as they waited for their PCR reports to clear before this semi-final. In the last game, Bangladesh scored 130 for 4 in 32.4 overs when the players left the ground following the news. The off-spinner Trevin Mathew, in his first game, took both openers’ wickets to make a good spell while skipper Wellalage took two wickets to give good support. With this, Bangladesh is slightly ahead of Sri Lanka in the net run rate at the Group B points table.

Both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh played three matches with one ending in a no-result and Bangladesh with a 3.810 net run-rate while Sri Lanka with a 3.340 net run rate came second. Bangladesh will meet India today at Sharjah in their semi-final while Pakistan the Group ‘A’ leaders will meet Sri Lanka at the semi-final in Dubai and both teams are meeting for the first time at this venue. The two unbeaten teams Sri Lanka and Pakistan both have well-balanced sides and a keen tussle is expected at this semi-final while this is going to be a battle between Pakistan bowlers and Sri Lankan batters.

Sri Lanka defeated Kuwait by 274 runs in their first league game while they beat Nepal by 60 runs and in both matches, Sri Lanka batters were able to pass the 300-run mark to make a big challenge against opponents. However, Pakistan led by all-rounder Qasim Akram reached the semi-final defeating Afghanistan by 4 wickets in their first game and beating India by 2 wickets. Skipper Akram scored a half-century and took 3 for 52 with his off-spin in their UAE game.

But they had to make a tough fight against UAE game and finally, Pakistan recorded 21 runs victory to maintain an unbeaten record at the league round as well as reach on top of the points table of Group ‘A’.

Sri Lankan top-order batters are in good form and that always gives more strength to the side. The openers Chamindu Wickramasinghe and Shevon Daniel hit half-centuries against Kuwait game while Pawan Pathiraja top-scored 86 and Ranuda Somaratne hit an unbeaten 60 which paved the way to get the tournament’s highest team total so far with 323 for 5 wickets. In addition, Sri Lanka made 322 for 4 wickets in their game against Nepal. The opener Chamindu Wickramasinghe scored 111 runs while number three batter Sadisha Rajapaksa made a superb knock of 131 to earn the Man of the Match award. Nepal also made 262 all out against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka bowlers have a big responsibility to play against Pakistan today.

Pakistan Mohammad Shehzad who scored 81 against India is in good form as the number three batter while their bowling lineup also is strong against Afghanistan in their opening game. Pakistan batters were a bit concerned as they had to reach 53 runs target with the loss of six wickets against Afghanistan. Zeeshan Zameer, the right arm medium paceman who took 5 for 60 against the India game is the key bowler while Ahmed Khan, Awais Ali, also a good right arm paceman can make an early breakthrough.

Sri Lanka top order batters have to face a big challenge against Pakistan pacemen while Pakistan batters also have a big challenge against Sri Lankan spinners, led by skipper Dunith Wellalage the leg spinner, and off-spinners Sadisha Rajapaksa and Trevin Mathew. Raveen de Silva the deputy skipper is also a useful leg spinner who can make good support. The paceman Matheesha Pathirana is also among the wickets and this is a big advantage for the Sri Lanka team to play tough games.

Sri Lanka still has not won an Asia Cup while they were four-time runner-ups in 1989, 2003, 2016, and 2018. India stands as six-time Asia Cup champions while they shared the trophy with Pakistan in 2012. Even the Afghanistan became champions in 2017 and Sri Lankans are expected to take the title and this semi-final is going to be their first hurdle to reach their goal.

Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 01:00

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