Coolidge: Aghanistan sneaked into the Under-19 World Cup semifinals after edging out Sri Lanka by four runs, courtesy a sensational fightback, here.
The odds were heavily stacked against them when they posted just 134 on the board after Sri Lanka asked them to take first strike but Afghanistan produced a superb performance with the ball to bowl the island nation out for 130 in 46 overs.
A composed stay at the crease from Sri Lanka skipper Dunith Wellalage (34 off 61) looked like would pull his team over the line, but it was not meant to be.
Afghanistan will now face England in the first Super League semifinal on February 1.
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Put to bat, Afghanistan openers Nangeyalia Kharote and Bilal Sayedi looked solid for the opening 10 overs before Traveen Mathew struck with a wicked delivery that removed Sayedi. Kharote departed in the very next over and when skipper Suliman Safi was trapped LBW after making just one, Afghanistan were reeling.
Ijaz Ahmadzai lost his wicket without troubling the scoreboard, but fellow middle-order batter Abdul Hadi was able to steady the ship with a crucial 37-run knock.
Vinjua Ranpul then helped clear-out the tail for Sri Lanka, ending with a five-wicket haul at the expense of just ten runs. The Sri Lankan reply was shaky from the start. Opener Sadisha Rajapaksa went for a duck in the opening over, and his replacement Shevon Daniel went for just 2 after he was clean bowled by Bilal Sami.
After 13 overs, they were in a worse position than Afghanistan were during their innings. Noor Ahmed then produced a cracking delivery to remove Ranuda Somarathne and put Sri Lanka in real trouble.
Their dreams of lifting a first U-19 World Cup trophy were fading fast. However, the eighth wicket partnership between captain Wellalage and Raveen de Silva looked like it might save the day, taking Sri Lanka from 43 runs for seven to 112.
Kharote took the crucial wicket of the skipper, who played cheaply, before Naveed claimed the wicket of de Silva to set-up a nerve jangling finish. Sri Lanka got to within five runs of victory, but their fourth run-out of the innings cost Mathew the final wicket and gave Afghanistan a dramatic victory.