Pakistan lagged behind by a small margin in getting a ticket for the final of the ongoing ICC Men's Under-19 World Cup in South Africa. In the second semi-final, the Asian team had to lose to Australia. It became an interesting affair as the winner was confirmed in the last over. Pakistan cricketers broke down in tears on the field after Australia claimed a narrow victory by one wicket in a tense clash. Many players including captain Saad Baig were inconsolable and tears were flowing from their cheeks. Later some Pakistani coaching staff came to the field to console him.
After it all ended in Benoni, Pakistan captain Baig shared his thoughts in the post-match press conference. He underlined his tremendous fighting spirit while supporting other members of the squad. “It is difficult to be a losing team, but we fell 20-30 runs short. We tried 100 percent. He played well. The boys fought well,” the 17-year-old said.
Pakistan set a target of 180 runs in the semi-final match played on a slow pitch. While only three batsmen could score double figures, Azan Awais and Arafat Minhas scored half-centuries, helping their team reach a fightable score in the first innings.
Ton Striker was the top performing bowler for Australia. The right-arm fast bowler claimed six wickets for just 24 runs during his spell. This is the best bowling figures so far in a knockout match of the Under-19 World Cup.
Pakistan made a great start with the ball. Australian opener Harry Dixon scored a composed half-century but received no help from other top-order batsmen. The next highest score was from Ollie Peake, who came to bat after Australia had lost three wickets between overs 25 and 40. He missed the half-century by just one run but brought his team back into the contest.
Australia needed three runs in the last over and one wicket was left. Pakistan had to field an extra fielder inside the 30-yard circle as they wasted time between overs. The first ball of Zeeshan Ahmed hit the inside edge of Australian vice-captain Ralph McMillan. Ubaid Shah, who was fielding at short fine leg, chased the ball but failed to stop it from reaching the boundary.
Australia will face defending champions India in the 2024 Under-19 World Cup final on February 11.