Simmons hundreds puts Windies in Plate final

Left-handed opener Keagan Simmons … struck a career-best 166 against Canada. (Photo courtesy ICC Media)

LINCOLN, New Zealand, CMC – Opener Keagan Simmons slammed a career-best hundred to help West Indies crush Canada Under-19s by 187 runs, and book their place in the Plate final of the ICC Youth World Cup here yesterday.

The left-handed opener brought alive the Bert Sutcliffe Oval with a sparkling 166 off 137 deliveries as the Caribbean side piled up 323 for eight off their 50 overs, after choosing to bat first.

Alick Athanaze, another left-hander, smashed 87 while opener Bhaskar Yadram chipped in with 23.

In reply, Canada folded for 136 in the 48th over without really threatening their target, despite an excellent 61 from Kavian Naress and 31 from Arslan Khan.

Fast bowler Ronaldo Alimohamed (2-17), along with off-spinners Alick Athanaze (2-20) and Bhaskar Yadram (2-31, all finished with two wickets each.

West Indies, who failed in their bid to defend the title they won two years ago, will now have the chance at redemption when they face Sri Lanka in tomorrow’s Plate final, also at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval.

Simmons, who starred in the opener against New Zealand with an unbeaten 92, was once again at his best in a knock laced with 17 fours.

While he lacked major support throughout the innings, he managed to add 42 with Yadram for the first wicket, 156 for the third wicket with Athanaze before putting on a further 52 for the fourth wicket with Kirstan Kallicharan (9).

Yadram struck four boundaries in a 26-ball knock before pulling off-spinner Rommel Shahzad to backward square to depart in the eighth over.

Shazad struck again two overs later when he removed captain Emmanuel Stewart for six, the right-hander edging a cut at a wide ball to the wicketkeeper, to leave the Windies on 56 for two.

However, Simmons and Athanaze then came together to dominate the Canada bowling, and put their side in total control of the contest.

Simmons raised his half-century off 47 deliveries in the 20th over with a boundary off seamer Akash Gill (4-54) before reaching three figures from 101 balls, when he swept left-arm spinner Aran Pathmanathan to the square boundary in the 39th over.

Simmons then accelerated, requiring only 25 more deliveries to bring up his 150.

Athanaze, meanwhile, faced 95 balls and counted five fours before falling lbw to leg-spinner Kavian Naress in the 38th over but his dismissal paved the way for Simmons to dominate a key fourth wicket partnership with Kallicharan, which took the Windies past 250.

When Kallicharan and Cephas Cooper (5) perished in the space of five deliveries, Simmons kept the innings going in a 35-run, sixth-wicket stand off 23 balls with Brad Barnes (16) before holing out to deep cover point off Gill in the penultimate over.

Faced with a daunting run chase Canada were never in the hunt, especially after slumping to five runs for three wickets in the third over, with Alimohamed striking twice.

Naress, who struck six fours and a six off 112 balls, stalled the Windies progress in a 48-run fourth wicket stand with opener Arslan Khan, who counted three fours and a six in a 50-ball knock.

Once Arslan fell in the 17th over, caught at the wicket off fast bowler Kian Pemberton, the inning buckled with last six wickets tumbling for 61 runs.

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