Victory Over Hong Kong Secures U19 Premier Cup Semi-Final Spot
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An emphatic victory over the Hong Kong Under 19 team at the ACC Premier Cup secured the Men’s Japan Under 19 National Team a spot in the tournament Semi-Finals.
After being asked to bat first, Japan made an outstanding start to the final group match in Kuala Lumpur as Nikhil Pol and Aditya Phadke put on 81 for the first wicket, the latter striking two boundaries in the very first over.
When Pol fell for a well made 33, one became two as Captain Koji Hardgrave-Abe holed out for a second-ball duck which sent shudders down the spines of the Japan fans.
Phadke remained however, and after two more wickets fell he found an ally in Rithvik Sivakumar with whom he shared a partnership of 78 in just 11.4 overs.
Sivakumar struck two sixes on his way to a career best 44, from just 46 balls, which really lifted the Japanese run rate, and all the while Phadke continued to work the bowlers around.
Phadke was eventually removed in the 45th over for an outstanding 118-ball 79, another career best, and it was left to the tail to scrape together a final total of 238 for nine from the 50 overs.
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Winning the game was always going to be enough to send Japan through to the final four, but Hong Kong knew they had a chance if they could score the runs quickly, and 16-year-old sensation Shiv Mathur set about the chase in scintillating fashion, showing why he represented Hong Kong Men at the recent Asian Games.
Boundaries flew off his bat in the opening exchanges, before opening partner Jayden Botfield also joined in as Hong Kong took 39 off the first five overs.
Maintaining that scoring speed would always be a challenge, and Kiefer Yamamoto-Lake (two for 23) had Botfield well caught by Shotaro Hiratsuka at midwicket and struck again in the same over as suddenly the complexion changed for Hong Kong.
For anyone watching Japan play this tournament on the ACC Live Stream, the sight of Charlie Hinze getting through the defences of right handed batters has become an enduring image, and there has been none better than the delivery to knock over the Hong Kong talisman.
Mathur became the second of four wickets to fall in the space of 19 balls and just nine runs, and Hinze (two for 18) cleaned up the the fourth as well while Aarav Tiwari also burst through a defensive prod; a calamitous runout all derived to have Japan in the ascendancy with Hong Kong 62 for six.
Hong Kong had recovered to some extent, reaching 106 for six after 21.1 overs when rain forced the players from the field and they never returned, meaning a win for Japan by 57 runs on the DLS method.
Speaking after the game coach Ardene Ruhode said: “That rush of wickets in the second innings really put us ahead of the game, but the biggest takeaway today was how the boys kept going despite losing the captain cheaply. To make around 240 on a surface our guys don’t play on much, against bowlers of that quality, just shows what our batters are capable of as a unit.”
The win means that of the 16 teams who entered the event, Japan are one of just four remaining and will play tournament favourites Nepal in the Semi-Final on Saturday 21st October.
A win in that match will secure a place at the Asia Cup in December, while the winner of the 3rd vs 4th play-off on Monday 23rd October will also qualify for the event, meaning all the teams have two chances to get the one more win required. Both Semi Finals and 3rd vs 4th match will all have a reserve day, while the Final will be played on Tuesday 24th October.
Remaining Fixture Schedule:
- Saturday 21st October: Nepal vs Japan (10:30am JST)
- Monday 23rd October: 3rd vs 4th (10:30am JST)
- Tuesday 24th October: Final (10:30am JST)