ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2014
Magnificent century by West Indies’ wicketkeeper-batsman Nicolas Pooran went in vain as Australia reached its third successive ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2014 semi-final with a comfortable five-wicket victory in front of the Star Sports cameras at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Nicholas Pooran of the West Indies celebrates after reaching his century. (Photo by Francois Nel - IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

Pooram, who came out to bat in the fourth over of the morning with the West Indies tottering at seven for three, was the last batsman out after scoring a scintillating 143 that lifted his side to 208 in 49.5 overs after it had collapsed to 70 for eight. However, the target proved to be a small one for the Australians who achieved the victory in 46.4 overs for the loss of five wickets after openers Matthew Short and Jaron Morgan put on 107 runs for the first wicket.

In Wednesday’s second semi-final at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Australia will go head to head with South Africa which carved out a one-sided nine-wicket victory over Afghanistan. Justin Dill’s four-wicket burst helped bowl the Asian side out for 197 and then opener and captain Aiden Markram hit an unbeaten 105 to guide his team home in 39.2 overs.

On Monday, former champions England and Pakistan will lock horns at Dubai International Cricket Stadium for a place in the final. The match will start at 1200 (local time).

The West Indies’ decision to bat first after winning the toss badly backfired when it plunged to 70 for eight in the 27th over. At that stage, Pooran, who was batting on 38, changed gears and went on to play one of the finest knocks in the history of the tournament.

Pooran clobbered 14 fours and six sixes in a 160-ball innings and added 136 runs with number-10 batsman Jerome Jones (20). Pooran’s 50 came from 76 balls and included six fours and a six, while he reached his century from 133 balls with eight fours and five sixes. Out of his final 43 runs that came off 27 balls, 30 were scored through boundaries.

Pooran’s innings was finally ended by fast bowler Guy Walker who finished as the pick of Australia’s bowlers with three for 44. Ben Ashkenazi (two for 37) and Thomas Andrews (two for 57) were the other wicket-takers.

Australia, in its run-chase, was never in trouble after Short and Morgan provided their side a 107-run first wicket stand in 21 overs. Even though both the openers departed in the space of five balls, Jake Doran ensured there we no hiccups as the three-time champion reached victory in 46.4 overs for the loss of five wickets.

Morgan hit eight fours and a six in a 66-ball 55, Short’s 62-ball 52 included four fours while Doran scored 49 not out from 64 balls with three fours.

Pooran, reflecting on his innings, said: “At 70 for eight, I wasn’t thinking much. I just wanted to do what my coaches had said, which is to bat, bat and bat, and occupy the crease as much as possible.

“I was kind of surprised with the kind of support I got from Jones because he’s a guy who likes to play his shots.

“Definitely this is one of the best innings I have played to date, but I am disappointed that we did not win. When you make runs, you want to see your side to win rather than lose.”

Australia captain Alex Gregory praised Pooran when he said: “Pooran played an outstanding innings. He was in control the whole time and played some outstanding shots.”

The captain was delighted with his side’s performance and form. “It’s a great moment for all the boys. We lost to Afghanistan, but it’s great to get a win here in the quarter-final.

Aiden Markram captain of South Africa celebrates after scoring a century. (Photo by Pal Pillai-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

“(Guy) Walker and (Billy) Stanlake were very good earlier on. They bowled fast from the word go and that’s what you need your fast bowlers to do.”

Previewing the semi-final against South Africa, Gregory said: “South Africa is a very strong team and we just need to put out and perform and hopefully it will come good for us.”

South Africa captain Aiden Markram carried on from where he left in the previous match against Zimbabwe when he followed up his 120 not out with 105 not out as the African side beat Afghanistan by nine wickets with more than 10 overs to spare.

Markram hit nine fours in a 118-ball innings and featured in an unbroken 158 runs second wicket stand with Kirwin Christoffels, whose contribution was 56 not out from 87 balls with three fours.

Earlier, Afghanistan, batting first after making the right call on the spin of the coin, was rocked by Dill and was bowled out for 197 in 49.5 overs. Dill bagged four for 40, his second four-wicket haul of the tournament, while Yaseen Valli took two for 26 and Kagiso Rabada claimed two for 32.

Afghanistan’s innings revolved around captain Nasir Jamal who scored 61 from 95 balls with four fours. Usman Ghani (36) and Ihsanullah (30) were the other notable run-getters.

Markram thanked the families of the players who came to support the side. “My mum and dad are here. We are fortunate to have quite a few parents that have come out, and it is awesome to have their support and we really appreciate it a lot,” he said.

The right-hander was quick to switch his attention to the semi-final against Australia when he said: “We played Australia in India in September.  They always manage to field a very strong side.  There’s nothing that can be taken for granted against a side like that.  Being a semi-final, it will just add to it. We’re very excited, and we’re going to be up for the challenge.”

Talking about the rivalry between the two sides, Markram said: “You could say it does add a bit more to it, but I don’t think it really affects us that much as we haven’t played them often enough to develop that rivalry yet.  I think it is like that in the senior team, because they’ve played each other for quite some time.

“They’ll be some rivalry and some heat, but at the end of the day, we are here to play cricket and just do what we love.”

Scores in brief
Super League Quarter-final – South Africa beat Afghanistan by nine wickets at Sharjah Cricket Stadium
Afghanistan 197 all out, 49.5 overs (Nasir Jamal 61, Usman Ghani 36, Ihsanullah 30; Justin Dill 4-40, Yaseen Valli 2-26, Kagiso Rabada 2-32)
South Africa 198-1, 39.2 overs (Aiden Markram 105 not out, Kirwin Christoffels 56 not out, Clyde Fortuin 32)
Man of the match – Aiden Markram (South Africa)

Super League Quarter-final –Australia beat West Indies by five wickets at Dubai International Cricket Stadium
West Indies 208 all out, 49.5 overs (Nicolas Pooran 143, Jerome Jones 20; Guy Walker 3-44, Ben Ashkenazi 2-37, Thomas Andrews 2-57)
Australia 209-5, 46.4 overs (Jaron Morgan 55, Matthew Short 52, Jake Doran 49 not out, Ben McDermott 29; Ray Jordan 2-29, Bryan Charles 2-41)
Man of the match – Nicolas Pooran (West Indies)

Plate Championship Quarter-final – UAE beat Scotland by seven wickets at Zayed Cricket Stadium
Scotland 119 all out, 37.4 overs (Andrew Umeed 23, Omer Mohammed 4-24, Pankaj Prakash 3-45)
UAE 124-3, 32.1 overs (Shiv Mehra 41, Shivank Vijayakumar 28 not out, Shorya Chopra 26, Abdul Sabri 2-31)

Plate Championship Quarter-final – New Zealand beat PNG by six wickets at Abu Dhabi Oval 1
PNG 186 all out, 48.3 overs (Kiplin Doriga 50, Hiri Hiri 37, Riley Hekure 35, Tom Willie 27; Brett Randell 3-23, Raki Weerasundara 3-23, Henry Collier 2-14)
New Zealand 190-4, 46.2 overs (Robert O’Donnell 57 not out, Ken McClure 51, Henry Collier 33)

Monday’s fixtures
Super League (semi-final, match starts at 1200):
*England v Pakistan, Dubai International Cricket Stadium

Play/off (semi-final, match starts 0930):
India v Sri Lanka, ICC Academy 1

Plate Championship (matches start at 0930):
Play/off (semi-finals)
Namibia v Canada, ICC Academy 2
PNG v Scotland, Abu Dhabi Oval 1
*denotes broadcast matches