England enter U19 CWC fInal
Edge a thriller with Afghanistan by 15 runs
ANTIGUA: England held their nerve to become the first team to reach the ICC Under 19 Men's Cricket World Cup final, edging Afghanistan by 15 runs in a nail-biter.
Rehan Ahmed was the Young Lions' hero, grabbing three wickets in the last over when their opponents needed only 18 runs from the last 10 balls.
England will now meet the winner of the other semi-final between Australia and India in the final on Saturday – a remarkable reversal from the previous event in South Africa, where they placed ninth.
Afghanistan will compete in the third-place playoff at the Coolidge Cricket Ground.
Despite a valiant Afghan effort, England ends a 24-year wait to return to the final.
The first of two Super League semi-finals at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground was postponed due to rain after England won the toss and elected to bat.
When both sides were finally able to take to the pitch in Antigua and Barbuda, Afghanistan made a brilliant start.
Jacob Bethell, who scored 88 against South Africa in the quarter-finals last week, was caught LBW by Naveed Zadran, an early indication that England had a difficult job.
As the Young Lions struggled to command with the bat, skipper Tom Prest and vice-captain Bethell both left early, reducing them to 2-56.
George Thomas did help to steady the ship with a magnificent 50 after a slightly nervous start at the crease, only to be beaten by a stunning delivery from Noor Ahmad.
Prest's team was five wickets down after just 100 runs when William Luxton was clean bowled by Izharulhaq Naveed.
However, rain again delayed play for another half hour, resulting in revised conditions of 47 overs on each side.
England's back-end partnership of 95 between George Bell and Alex Horton then managed to change the dynamics of their innings. The duo pounced on the Afghan seamers with vigour, bringing the final total to 231.
Due to prior weather interruptions, Afghanistan had a revised DLS target to match this total, and as they chased their first-ever ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup final, they knew a good start was required to grab control of the game.
Nangeyalia Kharote, the opening batter, was unable to deliver it when English seamer Josh Boyden claimed his wicket with only the third ball of the innings.
However, Kharote's replacement, Allah Noor, hit a big six to get the ball rolling and soon provided his team with a base.
As the tide of the semi-final shifted back in Afghanistan's favour, the 18-year-old produced a magnificent knock that included eight boundaries.
Together with wicketkeeper Mohammad Ishaq, the two took their team above 90 runs, with Noor contributing a critical half-century.
England's important breakthrough came thanks to some fantastic fielding that resulted in a run-out of Ishaq, with wicketkeeper Horton reacting quickly to a loose throw at the striker's end.
Noor fought hard but eventually fell for 60, with Thomas Aspinwall taking a crucial wicket. That set the stage for a tense conclusion that could have gone either way.
The 44th over for England appeared to have turned the game when two no-balls in a row gifted their opponents eight runs, before Abdul Hadi (37 no) smashed a huge six to take them to 200 and tantalising close.
However, Ahmed's late flurry and Boyden's nerveless last over propelled England to their first ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup final in 1998 in South Africa, when they took the championship.
Edited - SportsAction / Inputs - Agency