Australia beat Pakistan by one wicket a thrilling semi-final in Benoni
Australia v Pakistan in Benoni, Second semi-final
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Toss: Australia won the toss and elected to field
Result: Australia won by one wicket
Much like India on Tuesday, Australia decided to chase against Pakistan in the second semi-final. Hugh Weibgen’s call was backed by his bowlers as Tom Straker led the charge with a six-wicket haul, helping bowl out Pakistan for 179. Straker’s 6/24 were the best figures by a bowler in a U19 World Cup semi-final or final.
Pakistan fought back through Ali Raza (4/34) and Arafat Minhas (2/20) and were in with a chance to win till the very end. However, Australia, guided by Harry Dixon and Oliver Peake, managed to sneak past Pakistan by the barest of margins.
How the chase unfolded
Harry Dixon and Sam Konstas helped Australia make a steady start in pursuit of 180. The duo added 33 runs in the first Powerplay, but Ali Raza was unstoppable, breaking the stand at the start of the second Powerplay. He got one to nip back in and sent back Konstas’ off-stump cartwheeling.
Pakistan then had a lucky break in the 14th over when captain Hugh Weibgen hit a full toss from Naveed Khan straight to Haroon Arshad at cover. Wickets continued to tumble – a miscommunication led to the run out of Harjas Singh in the 16th over and Ryan Hicks then played on a Ubaid Shah delivery in the next over.
Dixon and Ollie Peake then came together to rebuild the Australia innings. They made steady progress through positive strokeplay, and helped get Australia’s chase back on track as Dixon brought up his half-century in the 24th over.
However, just when the game was turning in Australia’s favour, Minhas bowled Dixon with a beauty. He continued to trouble the Australians with his left-arm spin, bowling with immense control, and Australia’s asking rate steadily went up.
The arrival of Tom Campbell allowed for a left-right batting combination. Campbell and Peake stitched together a partnership and helped Australia edge closer to their target.
Pakistan needed something special to get them back into the game, and Minhas provided exactly that – he had Campbell bowled for 25 in the 39th over. When Raza then removed the crucial Peake for 49, it was anybody’s game.
Raza’s double-wicket final over put Pakistan just a wicket away from a spot in the final. But Callum Vidler and Raf MacMillan kept their cool, taking the game into the final over.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, MacMillan inside-edged Zeeshan in the beginning of the final over, and the ball evaded everyone through to the fine leg fence. Australia snuck through, much to the despair of Pakistan.
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Straker reigns supreme with the ball
Earlier, Shahzaib Khan and Shamyl Hussain got the Pakistan innings off to a good start, overcoming the Australia new-ball bowlers in the initial overs.
However, Tom Straker came in and promptly broke the stand – Shamyl Hussain tried to pull the bowler but found the field. Vidler struck in the very next over, with the big wicket of Shahzaib. The southpaw, who had led Pakistan’s scoring charts in the U19 World Cup, tried to pierce Vidler past point but Weibgen held on.
Pakistan’s troubles continued in the second Powerplay. Straker had his second in the 15th over, seeing off the Pakistan captain Saad Baig for 3, before MacMillan contributed soon after, trapping Ahmad Hassan’s leg before.
Azan Awais and Haroon Arshad tried to reverse the momentum by stitching a fifth-wicket partnership, but Mahli Beardman returned and cleaned up the latter with a beauty. Australia was right on top.
Awais and Minhas were able to hold their own over the next few overs and freed their arms to pick up the scoring rate. Fifty 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 was staring down the barrel. Straker cleaned up the tail to finish with 6/24.
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