U-19 WORLD CUP: Pakistan set up India semi-final after beating Afghanistan

SUMMARY: Pakistan Under-19s 190-4 (Mohammad Huraira 64, Noor Ahmad 2-32) beat Afghanistan Under-19s 189 (Zakhil 40, Abdul Rahman 30, Mohammad Amir Khan 3-58) by six wickets

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In what was built up as a tense clash between two neighbouring countries, Pakistan’s all-round bowling effort combined with a solid batting performance, led by half-centurion Mohammad Huraira, to consign Afghanistan to a six-wicket defeat in the quarter-final of the U-19 World Cup, in Benoni.

Pakistan’s win sets them up for a mouth-watering semi-final clash against defending champions India, while Afghanistan will take on Australia in the fifth-place playoff.

Although the win was a straightforward one for Pakistan, it featured a moment of quick-thinking from Afghanistan’s left-arm spinner Noor Ahmad, who ran out opener Huraira for 64 in the 28th over for walking out of his crease at the non-strikers’ end.

However, that dismissal did not alter the eventuality of the game. The unbeaten fourth-wicket stand between Qasim Ahmed (25) and Mohammad Haris (29) took Pakistan to victory in the 42nd over, much to the delight of the few Pakistan fans who had come to the ground.

“Our batsmen did not take the responsibility today, and that’s where we lost,” Afghanistan captain Farhan Zakhil told ESPNcricinfo after the match. “We want to congratulate Pakistan on the way they controlled the game. They deserved to win today.”

“I had self-belief that whenever I get a chance for the team, I’ll try to do my best,” Huraira, the Player of the Match, said. “The coaches told us to not go for the big shots against the spinners. When they bowled bad, only then did we go for the boundary shots. The pacers were wayward and we waited for the bad ball. When it came, we banged them away.”

Afghanistan, opting to bat first, were bowled out for 189. Pakistani right-arm pacer Mohammad Amir Khan led the way, taking 3-58. Afghanistan had begun their innings well, putting on 41 runs for their first wicket in quick time, but Ibrahim Zadran’s dismissal to left-arm quick Tahir Hussain opened the gates for a middle-order collapse.

The score of 41-1 soon became 99-4 as Pakistan’s bowlers upped the pressure by their tidy bowling in the middle overs. If it wasn’t for No. 9 Abdul Rahman’s 41-ball 30 towards the end, Afghanistan could have been bowled out for much less. Each of Pakistan’s six bowlers picked up at least one wicket, with Fahad Munir taking 2 for 29 in his seven overs.

Pakistan’s chase began smoothly, as their openers struck exquisite drives and hearty pulls off the Afghanistan pacers in the first Powerplay. Haider Ali was the first man dismissed, run out in the 12th over, but by then they had already put on 61.

Pakistan captain Rohail Nazir then struck 22 in the company of Huraira to take them past 100, and despite Noor’s efforts of taking two wickets plus the run-out of Huraira, they eventually had too few runs to defend. Huraira was the best batsman on the day. He struck eight fours and a six, peppering most of his boundaries through the covers and even holding his pose for the cameras on a few occasions. (ESPNCricinfo)

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