Devastated Pakistan players inconsolable after Australia dash U19 WC dreams | Cricket - Hindustan Times

Devastated Pakistan players inconsolable as Australia shatter U19 World Cup dreams to set up final vs India

Feb 09, 2024 04:03 PM IST

Pakistan team was crestfallen, tears flowing down the cheeks of players after losing the U19 World Cup semifinal to Australia in a last-over thriller.

Pakistan played one of the most thrilling knockouts in the history of the Under19 World Cup, but in the end, it was Australia, who held their nerves and saw themselves through to the final. After a topsy-turvy 99 overs of play, the match boiled down to the last six balls, with Australia needing to knock off three. Zeeshan Ahmed ran in hoping to deliver the knockout punch but voice captain Raf MacMillan inside-edged the ball to the boundary. Ubaid Shah, Naseem's brother, stationed at short fine leg gave it a chase but emerged second base. Australia had won by the narrowest margin of one wicket, when it all seemed lost a few overs ago, and set up a blockbuster final against India on Sunday.

Pakistan were crestfallen. (Screengrab)
Pakistan were crestfallen. (Screengrab)

As the ball touched the boundary, Umaid just lay there motionless. Zeeshan and captain Saad Baig were on the ground shattered, while the rest of the team were unable to lift themselves up. Tears were flowing down many a cheek. Pakistan were so near and yet so far. They made a match out of it after getting all out for 179 with Ali Raza doing the bulk of the damage with 4/34. But at last, it just wasn't going to be. Heartbreak all around.

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Things could have worked in Pakistan's favour though, had they not wasted time in between overs. As a result, they were forced to place a fielder inside the 30-yard circle. Who knows, had Ubaid been in the deep, the result could have been something else. But it is what it is. Pakistan are on their way back. Australia are into the summit clash where a repeat of the men's ICC World Cup 2023 awaits.

"Difficult to be the losing team, but we were short by 20-30 runs. We put in 100 percent effort. They played well. Boys fought really well. The way Ali Raza bowled was brilliant. Throughout the tournament, our bowling was good in the tournament. One team has to win, one has to lose, that's the game," losing captain Baig said at the post-match press conference.

Pakistan U19 players crestfallen after losing World Cup semi-final to Australia

Australia pacer Tom Straker was the star of the match for picking up 6/24 – the best figures ever in a knockout match at the Under 19 World Cup, overtaking Kagiso Rabada's 6/25 in 2014. Straker was the primary reason behind limiting Pakistan to under 200 and an underwhelming total… or so it seemed. Only three of their batters entered double-digits, with Azan Awais and Arafat Minhas hitting half-centuries.

Pakistan's bowlers on fire

In defence of 180, Pakistan pacers came in firing on all cylinders. Australia had reached 33 in 10 overs when Raza drew first blood. From there, they did not allow many partnerships to flourish. Despite wickets falling, Harry Dixon kept the chase alive for Australia with a half-century but was bowled by Minhas shortly after. After him, Olivier Peake took over, but Raza, in rip-roaring form and battling cramps, dealt a blow that had Australia gasping for breath.

In the 46th over, Australia lost their ninth wicket, and with 15 more to get, the game was for Pakistan to finish. Callum Vilder though held his own, and allowed MacMillan to pinch in singles wherever he could. In the penultimate over, MacMillan took three off two balls to bring the equation down, eventually going over the line to seal a memorable win.

"Never in doubt, had full faith in Vids and Raf to get the job done (laughs). A lot of emotions in the dressing room. I still don't know what happened. Tough to leave out Anderson, but Tom Straker bowled unbelievably today. We felt like we were well-prepared coming into this fixture. We fought so hard. Every time we thought we were on top, we lost a wicket. 17-year-old Peake, such composure and maturity in the middle. India is a class team. We'll love that challenge," said winning captain Huge Weibgen.

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