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Wakely eyes U19 final return

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Alex Wakely

Alex Wakely makes his ground against Bangladesh when he was injured © Getty Images

Under-19 captain Alex Wakely could return to lead England in Saturday's World Cup play-off final in Kuala Lumpur.

The Northants batsmen missed Wednesday's semi-final victory over Sri Lanka with a hand injury he picked up while batting in the final Group D match against Bangladesh.

Wakely played through the pain barrier in England's quarter-final defeat to India but was rested against the Sri Lankans as his team-mates won by eight runs using the Duckworth-Lewis method.

Tour manager John Carr told ecb.co.uk: "Alex picked that up a couple of games ago against Bangladesh. He managed to battle through the game against India with a very sore thumb.

"It was felt today that it was appropriate to give him a break because of the injury. He may still play in the final on Saturday but it hasn't been decided yet."

Essex's Tom Westley took over the reigns against Sri Lanka and produced a man-of-match performance - claiming 2-38 in nine overs before top scoring for England with 58 from 77 balls.

England's top batting order all made contributions as openers Billy Godleman (57) and James Taylor (30) put on 75 for the first wicket before Sam Northeast (45 not out) and Westley shared a 90-run third wicket stand.

"Tom Westley took over as captain. He's been vice captain for the tour. In his first game as captain on the tour he did a good job with the ball and with the bat and was man-of-the-match," Carr added.

John Carr

John Carr was pleased with stand-in captain Tom Westley's performance © Getty Images

"It was also pleasing that all the batsmen who batted spent a good time at the crease and kept the momentum going through the innings.

"Billy Godleman and James Taylor again provided a very good foundation to the innings. Sam Northeast hadn't had many opportunities recently and played very well as well."

Carr believes the victory is reward for the squad's hard work since they left home more than two months ago.

England were familiar with the Sri Lankans having played them six times - winning three and losing three - during a three week spell in Colombo before moving on to Malaysia.

The youngsters started their World Cup campaign with straightforward 10-wicket victories over Ireland and Bermuda but lost their Group D decider with Bangladesh and the resulting quarter-final against India.

"It would have been disappointing to leave the World Cup without beating one of the other Test playing nations because the team have put in a lot of hard work and they have played some good cricket during the tour," Carr said.

"They deserved to win today and have a crack at beating either Bangladesh, in a rematch, or the exciting prospect of playing Australia in the final match which the guys would be very up for.

"It would be a fitting end to a long tour on which the guys have worked really hard and done some very good work."

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