Perfect start for juniors

Staff Correspondent
Bangladesh Under-19 captain Mehedi Hasan celebrates one of his three wickets during their ICC Under-19 World Cup match against South Africa in Chittagong on Wednesday. –  BCB photo

Bangladesh Under-19 captain Mehedi Hasan celebrates one of his three wickets during their ICC Under-19 World Cup match against South Africa in Chittagong on Wednesday. – BCB photo

Hosts Bangladesh put in  brave efforts to post a 43-run win over defending champions South Africa and give the ICC Under-19 World Cup a perfect kick start in Chittagong on Wednesday.
Vice-captain Nazmul Hossain hit 73 off 82 balls to help the Boys in Green recover from a slow start to score 240-7 on sluggish pitch at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
The target proved too tough for South Africa, who were bowled out for 197 in 48.4 overs despite a defiant century from opener Liam Smith.
It was Bangladesh’s first success over South Africa in the ICC -19 World Cup following four previous defeats, but 12th in 15 matches against the same opponents over the past two years.
With Scotland and Namibia the other sides in the group, the home team’s victory makes them now the firm favourites to secure the top place of Group ‘A’ and avoid a possible quarter-final clash against pre-tournament favourites India.
The victory was not, however, assured until the 45th over of South Africa innings when skipper Mehedi Hasan took a stunning catch off Saleh Ahmed at mid off diving to his left to dismiss Smith, who posed a great threat after reaching his dogged century.
Smith held one end to keep South Africa always in contention despite Bangladesh making regular strikes from the other side, which saw the asking run rate soaring after every passing over.
Right-handed Smith had his share of luck too as television umpire turned down an appeal of return catch by Saleh Ahmed on 49 before Saeed dropped a dolly catch off Sanjit Saha when the batsman was on 56.
Paceman Mohammad Saifuddin and skipper Mehedi Hasan Miraz grabbed three wickets each for Bangladesh giving away 30 and 37 runs respectively while Saeed and Saleh also played their part with picking two wickets apiece.
Earlier, Bangladesh put in a similar combined effort with the bat after Miraz won the toss and elected to bat first.
The game started in an inauspicious way as Bangladesh openers Saif Hasan and Pinak Ghosh failed to score any run in the first three overs. Saif soon became the victim of resulting pressure but Pinak finally got the innings going with 43 off 51 balls.
Just when he looked set for a big thing, the stocky southpaw, whose batting style and stature reminded everyone of New Zealand’s Jesse Ryder, became run out after hitting four fours and two sixes.
One-down Joyraj Sheikh also looked settled before he was abruptly dismissed for 49 runs. But Nazmul and Mehedi staved off a collapse with a 59-run partnership, which ironically became highest in Bangladesh’s innings.
Mehedi left after making 23 but Nazmul kept his cool to give the innings with his calculative fifty, which included four fours and three sixes.
Bangladesh will play against Scotland in their next match at the Sheikh Kamal International Stadium in Cox’s Bazar on January 31.

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