WI shatter Junior Tigers’ dream

Azad Majumder
West Indies Under-19 batsman Shamar Springer (C) jumps in the air after guiding his team to the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup after defeating hosts Bangladesh in the semi-final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Thursday. — Sourav Losker

West Indies Under-19 batsman Shamar Springer (C) jumps in the air after guiding his team to the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup after defeating hosts Bangladesh in the semi-final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Thursday. — Sourav Losker

Bangladesh’s dream journey in the ICC Under-19 World Cup came to an end on Thursday when they lost to West Indies by three wickets in the first semi-final in Mirpur.
The weight of expectation, a bit of over confidence and on top of that some poor cricket combined to result the heartbreaking loss as the young Caribbean side restricted Bangladesh to 226-9 before reaching 230-7 in 48.4 overs.
Skipper Mehedi Hasan Miraz fought valiantly with bat and ball and all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin extended a helping hand to him during both occasions but they were not good enough against a spirited West Indies side.
Shimron Hetmyer matched his counterpart Miraz with a crucial fifty and Shamar Springer took the full advantage of a drop catch by Saifuddin to stay unbeaten on 62, orchestrating the win.
Bangladesh skipper Miraz won the toss and elected to bat first despite a foggy weather which was always going to help the Caribbean pacers.
West Indies had made life difficult for Pakistani batsmen in a similar condition in the first quarter-final and chased down a score of 227-6 without facing any serious pressure.
Despite being fully aware of the fact, Bangladesh’s decision to bat first was somewhat surprising. Bangladesh’s 3-0 success over the same side in the buildup of the tournament perhaps motivated to the side to take the risk but it did not pay off.
West Indies pacers struggled to find their rhythm at the start of the innings and conceded nine extra runs before they finally started troubling the Bangladesh batsmen.
Opener Pinak Ghosh suffered his third duck in the tournament and Saif Hasan did only little better before getting dismissed for 10.  Once Nazmul Hossain followed him with 11, Bangladesh were reduced to 58-3.
One-down Joyraj Sheikh got the start once again but failed to convert it into a big score as he departed for 38.  Quarter-final hero Zakir Hasan was sent ahead of Miraz but he could score only 24, leaving Bangladesh in a precarious position of 113-5.
It was up to Miraz to lift the side and the all-rounder did not disappoint like others. He scored 60 off 74 balls, his third fifty in the tournament, and shared an 85-run partnership with Mohammad Saifuddin (36) for the sixth wicket to give the innings some respectability.
Pacer Keemo Paul (3-20), famous for his Mankading against Zimbabwe, dismissed Mehedi and Saifuddin off the successive balls to deny Bangladesh any chance of getting a bigger total.
West Indies made a quick start in pursuit of the modest target thanks to Gidron Pope’s 38 off 25 balls but Miraz brought Bangladesh back into the contest with two wickets.
Hetmyer kept West Indies on track with 60 off 59 balls -his second fifty in as many matches-before he was removed by Saifuddin. It could have been easily the turning point of the game but Springer, who earlier claimed 2-36, did not let the momentum go after Saifuddin dropped him on 15.
Bangladesh fielded brilliantly throughout the tournament but saw the standard fall drastically which denied them a chance of building any pressure on the West Indies side.
Singles came very easily, which means West Indies were always in control despite left-arm spinner Saleh Ahmed claimed three wickets, including two wickets in one over in his third spell.
West Indies will face India in the final on Sunday hoping to win their first title in the ICC Under-19 World Cup. Bangladesh will now face Sri Lanka in the third place deciding match at Fatullah on Saturday.

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