Pakistan played one of the most exciting qualifiers in the history of the U19 World Cup, but in the end it was Australia who held their nerve and managed to reach the final. After 99 overs of scrambled play, the match came down to the last six balls, with Australia needing to bowl three. Zeeshan Ahmed ran in hoping to strike the decisive blow but Voice captain Raf MacMillan pushed the ball towards the boundary. Ubaid Shah, Naseem’s brother, stationed at short fine leg, chased him but he emerged at second base. Australia had won by the narrowest of margins of one wicket, when all seemed lost just a few overs ago, and set up a blockbuster final against India on Sunday.
When the ball touched the boundary, Umaid remained motionless. Zeeshan and captain Saad Baig were left devastated on the ground, while the rest of the team could not get up. Tears ran down many cheeks. Pakistan was so close and yet so far away. They made a match after going all out for 179 with Ali Raza doing most of the damage with 4/34. But in the end it just wasn’t going to be that way. Anguish everywhere.
However, things could have worked in Pakistan’s favor if they had not wasted time between overs. As a result, they were forced to place a defender inside the 30-yard circle. Who knows, if Ubaid had been in the deep end, the result could have been different. But it is what it is. Pakistan is on its way back. Australia is in the summit clash where a repeat of the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023 awaits.
“It is difficult to be the losing team, but we were 20-30 runs short. We gave 100 per cent effort. They played well. The boys fought very well. The way Ali Raza bowled was brilliant. Throughout the tournament, our game bowling was good. in the tournament. One team has to win, the other has to lose, that’s the game,” captain Baig said in the post-match press conference.
Pakistan U19 players, dejected after losing the World Cup semi-final against Australia
Australian pacer Tom Straker was the star of the match as he scored 6/24, the best figures ever achieved in a qualifying match at the U19 World Cup, surpassing Kagiso Rabada’s 6/25 in 2014. Straker was the main reason behind limiting Pakistan to less than 200 and a disappointing total… or so it seemed. Only three of their batsmen reached double figures, with Azan Awais and Arafat Minhas reaching half-centuries.
Pakistan bowlers on fire
Defending 180, Pakistan’s pacers came in firing on all cylinders. Australia had reached 33 in 10 overs when Raza drew first blood. From there, they didn’t allow many partnerships to flourish. Despite falling wickets, Harry Dixon kept Australia’s chase alive for half a century but was bowled by Minhas soon after. After him, Olivier Peake took over but Raza, in blistering form and battling cramps, delivered a blow that left Australia breathless.
In the 46th over, Australia lost their ninth wicket and, with 15 more to go, Pakistan had to finish the game. Callum Vilder, however, stood his ground and allowed MacMillan to score singles whenever he could. In the penultimate over, MacMillan took three off two balls to reduce the equation and finally got over the line to seal a memorable victory.
“I never had any doubts, I had full faith in Vids and Raf to do the job (laughs). A lot of emotions in the locker room. I still don’t know what happened. It’s hard to leave Anderson out, but Tom Straker pitched incredibly today. We felt like we were good prepared for this match. We fought very hard. Every time we thought we were on top, we lost a ground. Peake, 17, so much composure and maturity in the middle. India “They are a class team. We will love that challenge,” said winning captain Huge Weibgen.