All-rounder Nyeem Young struck a nerveless half-century to inspire a West Indies comeback as the Caribbean side overturned the odds to upset powerhouses Australia by three wickets, and register their first-ever win over the tournament favourites at an ICC Under-19 World Cup here yesterday.
Chasing 180 for victory at the Diamond Oval in the Group B opener, the Windies Under-19s found themselves in danger of defeat when they crashed to 92 for five after 25 overs, leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha slicing through the middle order with four for 30.
However, the right-handed Young arrived to stroke an audacious 61 from 69 balls, in an invaluable 78-run sixth wicket stand with fellow Barbadian Matthew Forde (23), to rescue the run chase and lift the Windies to a crucial victory.
There was some late drama when both Young and Forde perished in the space of eight deliveries with 10 runs still required but Kirk McKenzie (seven not out) put any lingering doubts to rest with an imperious extra cover drive for six off the last ball of the 46th over, to end the contest in style.
The new ball fast-bowling pair of Jayden Seales (four for 49) and Forde (three for 24) had earlier conjured up incisive spells to send the Aussies tumbling for an inadequate 179 in the 36th over.
Australia appeared set for a major total at 158 for four in the 31st over but Seales and Forde ripped through the middle and lower order as the last six wickets fell cheaply for just 21 runs.
Opener Jake Fraser-McGurk batted with composure to top score with 84 from 97 deliveries while wicketkeeper Patrick Rowe chipped in with 40 but Australia failed to find a lower order effort to rescue their innings.
The victory was a vital one for the Windies especially with another difficult encounter against England looming tomorrow at the same venue.
Choosing to bowl first, Seales struck early when he had Liam Scott caught low down at cover for four with the score on 10 in the second over.
Fraser-McGurk added 33 for the second wicket with captain Mackenzie Harvey (20) before two bizarre run outs set in train a slide that saw the Aussies lose three wickets for 24 runs to be 67 for four in the 14th over.
Harvey found himself short at the non-striker’s end after a full-blooded drive from Fraser-McGurk clipped Seales’s fingers on his follow through, and ricocheted onto the stumps in the eighth over.
Lachlan Hearne (five) agonisingly suffered the same fate off pacer Joshua James’s bowling in the 13th over, with Fraser-McGurk yet again contributing unintentionally to his partner’s downfall.
Oliver Davies then perished to the first ball he faced in the next over, gloving a leg-side catch behind off Young’s lively medium pace, to leave Australia 67 for four in the 14th over.
Fraser-McGurk, who struck nine fours, stitched up the innings in a 91-run, fifth wicket stand with Rowe, who faced 57 balls, as the Aussies rallied strongly.
But once the 17-year-old McGurk lofted Seales to mid on in the 31st over, the innings quickly lost momentum.
In reply, West Indies started quickly when left-hander Leonardo Julien lashed three fours and a six in a cameo 20 off 23 balls, as he posted 36 for the first wicket with captain Kimani Melius (17).
But his dismissal, getting a leading edge and skying to cover in the sixth over off left-arm pacer Matthew Willans, saw West Indies lose five wickets for 56 runs as Sangha grabbed the next four wickets to put Australia in command.
Melius edged a defensive stroke behind in the 11th over, Antonio Morris (9) failed to clear long off in the 19th, Kevlon Anderson (17) top-edged a sweep and was caught at backward square in the 21st before Matthew Patrick was trapped lbw on the backfoot in the 25th.
Seemingly unflustered by the Windies’ predicament, Young played his shots with freedom, striking six fours and a six—a clean hit over mid-wicket off Sangha—in an enterprising innings.
He got off the mark with a sweetly-timed cover drive for four off off-spinner Todd Murphy in the 21st over and reached his fifty off 52 balls in the 37th over with a bit of fortune, picking up a couple after his uppish drive off pacer Corey Kelly burst through the hands of cover.
Both he and Forde were lbw victims late on but by then West Indies had victory in sight.