U-19 World Cup: Sri Lanka beat England, set up semis clash with India

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Mirpur, Feb 7 (IANS) Opener Avishka Fernando struck a fluent 95 after Wanidu Hasanranga grabbed three wickets as Sri Lanka defeated England by six wickets in the quarter-final match here on Sunday and thus set up a semi-final clash against India in the Under-19 cricket World Cup.

Fernando hit 11 boundaries and one six as Sri Lanka dismissed England for 184 in 49.2 overs and then surpassed the modest target scoring 186 in 35.4 overs. Leg-spinner Hasanranga grabbed three wickets for the island nation.

Sri Lanka will take on India in the first semi-final in Mirpur on Tuesday. The second semi-final on Thursday will feature hosts Bangladesh against the winner of Monday’s Pakistan-West Indies match.

This is only the third time Lanka have reached the semi-final of this tournament since its inception in 1988.

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In the home event in 2000, they reached the final where they lost to Mohammad Kaif-captained India, while in 2010 in New Zealand, Sri Lanka reached the last four and finished in fourth position.

Callum Taylor top-scored with 42 after England won the toss and elected to bat, but the rest of the batting fell apart against the sustained pressure applied by the Lankan bowlers.

Leg-spinner Hasaranga finished with three wickets for 34 runs after seamer Asitha Fernando had wrecked the start with two dismissals.

In reply, Sri Lanka made a breezy start racing to 51 for no loss in eight overs before the lunch break, with Fernando contributing 35 of those runs.

Kaveen Bandara helped Fernando put on 76 for the first wicket by the 14th over when he was run out for 22.

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Fernando was about to steer his team towards an emphatic win before he was caught behind off Saqib Mahmood when just 14 runs were needed for victory in 17 overs.

Skipper Charith Asalanka, who put on 69 for the third wicket with Fernando, fell for 34 soon after, but Sri Lanka cruised home easily.

Asalanka was delighted to see his team bounce back after losing to Pakistan in the last league match.

“We had not batted well against Pakistan, so it was important to settle down and build big scores, which is what Avishka was able to do today. But the bowlers won us the game today. We bowled well and fielded very well too. But the plus point is that we have improved our batting,” Asalanka said after the win.

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Asalanka said Lanka will test India with spin in the semi-final.

“We know India players are good facing spin, but spin is our strength and we will stick to that. We are confident of doing well in the semi-final,” the skipper said.

Brief Scores: England 184 in 49.2 overs (Callum Taylor 42; Wanidu Hasaranga 3-34, Asitha Fernando 2-16) vs Sri Lanka 186-4 in 35.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 95).

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