Host Bangladesh gave the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2016 a momentous start with a 43-run victory over defending champion South Africa in Wednesday’s opening Group A match. In a Group C fixture at the MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong, Dan Lawrence and Jack Burnham hit centuries as title contender England brushed aside Fiji by 299 runs. Bangladesh, which elected to bat on a slow pitch at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong, lost wickets just when the batsmen appeared to have settled down and was restricted to 240 for seven in its 50 overs.
Nazmul Hossain hit 73 off 82 balls to boost the total after useful contributions from Pinak Ghosh (43) and Joyraz Sheik (46). The target proved too tough for South Africa, which was bowled out for 197 in the penultimate over despite a defiant 100 from opener Liam Smith. Smith batted till the 45th over before being the seventh batsman out, caught superbly in the covers by Bangladesh captain Mehidy Hasan.
Mehidy, leading his nation in the second successive ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, picked up three for 37 with his off-spin. Seamer Mohammad Saifuddin took 3/30. It was Bangladesh’s first win over South Africa in the ICC U-19 World Cup following four previous defeats, but Wednesday’s victory was its 12th in 15 matches against the same opponents over the past two years.
With Scotland and Namibia the other sides in the group home team’s victory makes it the favourite to secure top place from Group A and avoid a possible quarter-final clash against Rahul Dravid-coached India. Nazmul Hossain, who was named man of the match, said the slow wicket made their total a challenging target. Nazmul says: ‘The ball was not coming on to the bat, so we thought it was a good total. I just wanted to bat as long as possible and hold one end up. But I was still a bit disappointed that we could not get another 20-odd runs.’
Nazmul insisted his team will not relax after beating South Africa: ‘We can’t afford to relax or lose focus. We have just put one game away but we must concentrate on the next match and then the next. In a tournament like this there is no room for comfort.’ South African captain Tony De Zorzi said Smith’s century was a great positive to come out from what was a disappointing defeat for his side: ‘I think Smith played superbly. 240 was certainly not a bad total to be chasing but we did not have wickets in hand. We lost the game in the second half. Hopefully we will do better in the next match.’
In their next matches in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday, Bangladesh will take on Scotland while South Africa will face Namibia. Meanwhile, England piled up 371 for three in its 50 overs against Fiji, with Essex’s Lawrence smashing 174 off 150 balls with 25 boundaries and a six, and Burnham of Durham making 148 off 137 balls with 19 fours and four sixes. The pair put on 303 for the second wicket after opener Max Holden had been dismissed in the third over.
England, whose squad includes nine players with experience of senior county cricket back home, bowled Fiji out for 72 in only 27.3 overs. Peni Vuniwaqa was the lone batsman to offer any resistance with 36 as four batsmen failed to score and five others did not reach double figures. Lancashire seamer Saqib Mahmood grabbed three wickets for two runs in his five overs and his new-ball partner Sam Curran of Surrey took 3/22.
England next plays the West Indies on Friday and Fiji takes on Zimbabwe the same day. The 11th edition of the biennial 16-nation tournament features nine Test-playing nations and seven Associate and Affiliate Members – Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal, Ireland and Scotland. Teams have been divided into four groups with the top two in each advancing to the Super League quarter-finals and the other two qualifying for the Plate championships.