Townsville (Australia): Australia took a huge stride in its quest for its fourth ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup title on Tuesday, by defeating South Africa by four wickets at the Tony Ireland Stadium here.
Australia overcame a late charge by South Africa to achieve its target of 192 with nine balls and four wickets to spare. The final will be played on August 26.
Australia will now wait for the winner of Thursday’s second semi-final between India and New Zealand to know its opponent.
The loser of Thursday’s semi-final will meet South Africa to decide the third and fourth positions on Saturday.
Australia opener Cameron Bancroft was the star of his side when he scored a fine 66 and featured in a match-winning 95-run third wicket partnership with Kurtis Patterson (46) after the defending champion had slipped to three for two in two overs in its run-chase.
Bancroft, who faced 133 balls and hit five fours and a six during his nearly three-hour vigil at the crease was declared player of the match. Australia, which is also bidding to become the second side after Pakistan to win back-to-back titles, made a good start to the day when Will Bosisto won an important toss and elected to bowl in overcast conditions in Townsville.
Joel Paris and Mark Steketee both struck early with the new ball to remove South Africa’s in-form Quinton de Kock (one) and Gihahn Cloete (zero).
Steketee returned for his second spell and took the crucial wicket of South Africa captain Chad Bowes (46: 104b, 1x4, 1x6) who had struck up a handy partnership of 88 with Murray Coetzee.
Coetzee (50:76b, 3x4) went on to make his second half-century of the tournament before he was run-out with a direct hit by Ashton Turner.
Gurinder Sandhu maintained a good line and length in the morning, ending with the tidy figures of two for 23 from ten overs, featuring three maidens.
Steketee claimed three for 35 from his ten overs.
In reply, Australia lost the early wickets of James Peirson and Meyrick Buchanan to be in strife at two for three.
However, Bancroft and Patterson both soaked up the occasion and repaired the damage before Patterson was caught behind by de Kock for 49 (71b, 7x4).
Bosisto once again showed his class at the crease as he and Bancroft chipped away for a fourth wicket stand of 75 before Bancroft was run out for 66 (133b,5x4, 1x6).
Bosisto looked likely to take Australia through to the win but he was run-out by Theunis de Bruyn for 40 (85b, 2x4) as the home side slipped from 173 for three to 188 for six, before Turner hit a four through extra cover to seal the victory for his side.
Player of the match Bancroft later said: “I think it was a tough wicket to score off. It was one of those wickets where you had to bat for a long period of time. If you set yourself in those first nine overs early on it makes things a lot easier later on.”
“I am really proud of myself, it would have been nice to be not out at the end but it doesn’t always happen. I am just rapt that we are going to be playing on Sunday,” the opener added.