Sunday, March 3, 2024

U19 World Cup: Australia clinch thrilling semi-final win over Pakistan

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Australia have defeated Pakistan by one wicket to set the 2024 U19 World Cup final against India on February 11.

An interesting chase brewed up as Pakistan fought back on the back of Ali Raza and Arafat Minhas. However, Australia managed to overcome Pakistan by the barest of margins and will now play India in the final on February 11.

An intriguing chase unfolded as Pakistan staged a comeback led by Ali Raza and Arafat Minhas. However, Australia narrowly prevailed over Pakistan.

In the second semi-final against Pakistan, Australia, following India’s example, also opted to chase. Hugh Weibgen’s decision received support from his bowlers.

Shahzaib Khan and Shamyl Hussain made a steady start, overcoming Australia’s new-ball bowlers in the initial overs. The first change bowler, Tom Straker, ended this partnership. Shamyl Hussain 917) attempted to pull the bowler but was caught in the ninth over. In the very next over, Callum Vidler claimed the crucial wicket of Shahzaib Khan (4).

The southpaw, who had been the leading run-scorer for Pakistan in the U19 World Cup, tried to pierce Vidler past point, but his shot was intercepted by Hugh Weibgen.

Pakistan faced more challenges in the second Powerplay. Straker secured his second wicket in the 15th over, and Raf MacMillan soon contributed by dismissing Ahmad Hassan leg before.

Azan Awais and Haroon Arshad attempted to shift momentum with a fifth-wicket partnership, but when Mahli Beardman, making a comeback, dismissed the latter with a superb delivery, Australia regained control.

Awais (52) and Arafat Minhas (52) were able to hold their own over the next few overs, and freed their arms to pick the scoring rate. 50 runs came in the overs 31-40.

It was Straker who struck for Australia yet again, breaking the key partnership after he got Awais (52) to nick one behind. And when Minhas fell after scoring a fifty of his own, Pakistan were staring down the barrel as they were bowled out for 179. Straker cleaned up the tail to finish with 6/24.

Harry Dixon and Sam Konstas contributed to Australia’s steady start in pursuit of 180. The pair added 33 runs during the first Powerplay. Nevertheless, Ali Raza struck back for Pakistan at the beginning of the second Powerplay. He managed to make one nip back in, sending Konstas’ off-stump cartwheeling.

Shortly thereafter, Pakistan had a stroke of luck in the 14th over when Hugh Weibgen hit a full toss from Naveed Khan straight into the hands of Haroon Arshad at cover. Wickets continued to fall as a miscommunication led to the run-out of Harjas Singh in the 16th over, while Ryan Hicks played on to a delivery from Ubaid Shah in the next over.

Dixon and Ollie Peake then joined forces to rebuild the Australian innings. Their steady progress was marked by positive strokeplay, and soon Australia’s chase was back on track.

Dixon reached his half-century in the 24th over. However, just as the game seemed to be turning in Australia’s favour, Arafat Minhas bowled Harry Dixon (50) with a beautiful delivery. The left-arm spinner bowled with control, causing Australia’s asking rate to rise.

The arrival of Tom Campbell facilitated a left-right batting combination. Campbell and Peake built on the previous partnership, bringing Australia closer to their target.

Pakistan needed a special effort to get back into the game, and Minhas provided exactly that. He bowled Campbell for 25 in the 39th over. Then, Raza removed Oliver Peake for 49, leaving the game evenly poised.

Raza’s double-wicket final over brought Pakistan within one wicket of an appearance in the final. However, MacMillan (19*) remained composed and guided Australia through in the final over.


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