Pakistan defended a low total in Benoni against Bangladesh to become the fourth semi-finalist in the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 after India, Australia and South Africa had claimed their spots earlier in the week.
In a game that see-sawed back and forth, Ubaid Shah was the difference, taking a sensational five-wicket haul to hold off a resilient Bangladesh.
Despite multiple drop catches, the eventual victors created several opportunities with the ball. Their fielders redeemed themselves with spectacular catches, providing invaluable support to the bowlers and ultimately sealing a tense and hard-fought victory in Benoni.
Meanwhile, Tazeem Ali registered a seven-wicket haul in Potchefstroom as England’s spinners took all ten wickets to beat Zimbabwe by 146 runs, and in Bloemfontein, Ireland put up a brilliant all-round display to beat New Zealand in a rain-affected game decided by DLS method.
With the Super Six matches coming to a close, the semi-final fixtures have been identified. India will play South Africa in the first semi-final in Benoni on February 6 while Pakistan will take on Australia in the other semi at the same venue on February 8.
Pakistan beat Bangladesh by five runs in Benoni
Pakistan 155 (40.4 overs) v Bangladesh 150 (35.5 overs)
In a high-stakes Super Six clash at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 in Benoni, Pakistan and Bangladesh faced off, with a semi-final spot hanging in the balance.
Bangladesh not only lagged behind Pakistan by two points at the outset but also faced a considerable deficit in net run rate.
Bangladesh opted to bowl first at Willowmoore Park, knowing that they would be aware of the exact equation needed to qualify for the semi-finals when the run-chase began.
Pakistan’s dangerous opening duo of Shamyl Hussain and Shahzaib Khan started off sedately, but Md Rohanat Doullah Borson, coming off a four-wicket haul in the previous game, broke through for Bangladesh. Borson, coming around the wicket, produced a delivery that swung back into Shamyl, who opted not to play a shot and watched as the ball crashed into the stumps.
The pacer struck again for Bangladesh in his next over, sending back Azan Awais with a sharp bouncer that the batter could only fend to the keeper. Ariful Islam then compounded Pakistan’s troubles with a direct-hit run-out of skipper Saad Baig, leaving Pakistan reeling at 66 for three.
What still seemed like a recoverable position soon turned completely in Bangladesh’s favour in the space of three overs. Sheikh Paevez Jibon and Borson shared three wickets between them as Shazaib, Ahmad Hassan and Haroon Arshad departed in quick succession.
At 89 for six, Bangladesh had their noses firmly in front, but Arafat Minhas and Ali Asfand mounted a crucial partnership, adding 43 runs to resurrect Pakistan’s innings. While Minhas took charge of the scoring, Asfand played the anchor role to prevent another batting collapse.
Off-spinner Jibon’s return, however, ended Asfand’s stay in the middle as an attempted reverse sweep went straight to the gully fielder. Jibon went on to clean up Ubaid Shah with a well-executed yorker in his next over.
Borson and Mahfuzur Rahman Rabby took the final two wickets as Pakistan were bowled out for 155. To secure a semi-final berth, Bangladesh needed to chase down the target of 156 in 38.1 overs or less, a challenging yet attainable task.
Ubaid Shah provided Pakistan with an explosive start, dismissing Bangladesh’s openers, Ashiqur Rahman Shibli and Jishan Alam within the first five overs. Ariful Islam and Chowdhury Md Rizwan rebuilt the innings, but Ali Raza soon found the edge of the latter off a full delivery.
Ahrar Amin survived an early scare when Shamyl Hussain dropped a catch in the slip cordon, but he couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. Ubaid Shah once again found the edge of Amin’s bat, and this time Haroon Arshad, stationed at first slip, took an extraordinary diving catch jumping to his left.
Shamyl made amends for his earlier drop with a spectacular diving catch at point, dismissing the in-form Ariful Islam, and Bangladesh found themselves in deep trouble at 77 for five.
Sheikh Paevez Jibon entered the fray at No.7 and enjoyed a reprieve when Ubaid Shah dropped him at deep square leg. However, Jibon’s stay at the crease ended soon after, sent back by Ubaid in the very next over.
Facing a daunting situation, Bangladesh needed Shihab James to anchor their innings, and he stepped up with skipper Mahfuzur for company. With no immediate pressure on the run rate, Bangladesh managed to build a partnership that put Pakistan on the defensive.
James had a fortunate escape when he awkwardly pulled Ali Raza to deep square leg, where Ubaid Shah dropped a straightforward catch. But Ubaid quickly regrouped and returned to the attack, dismissing James with a late-swinging delivery that found the edge and went through to the wicketkeeper.
Ubaid Shah completed a five-wicket haul with James’s dismissal, leaving Bangladesh with only three wickets in hand. Ali Raza compounded their troubles by sending back the Bangladesh captain in the following over, putting Pakistan in a commanding position.
As Bangladesh’s innings began to unravel rapidly, Azan Awais further tightened the screws on Pakistan’s victory with a brilliant direct hit in the next over. The score plummeted from 123 for six to 127 for nine, and the target seemed distant.
However, Pakistan was in for a surprise when Bangladesh’s No.10 and No.11, Borson and Maruf Mridha, managed to defy their pacers for the next two overs. When Arafat Minhas took the ball, Borson utilized the spinner’s over to launch a six over long-on, bringing Bangladesh within ten runs of victory.
Pakistan’s fielding continued to oscillate between brilliant and ordinary as a misfield gave Bangladesh three vital runs off Mohammad Zeeshan. But the fast bowler induced an inside edge to clean up Maruf two balls later to give Pakistan a narrow five-run win and a spot in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Pakistan will take on Australia in the second semi-final on February 8 at this very venue.
Player of the Match Ubaid Shah admitted nerves, but maintained that Pakistan were confident of winning.
“It was quite tense towards the end, but I wanted to keep myself calm and take wickets. After I dropped the catch, the captain gave me the ball and said that this is the moment you have to be the hero. I could make it right by picking up a wicket immediately. There was bounce on the wicket and that helped me in my second spell.”
England beat Zimbabwe by 146 runs in Potchefstroom
England 237/7 (50 overs) v Zimbabwe 91 (24.5 overs)
England recovered from a precarious position against Zimbabwe to register a win in their final match of the tournament. Zimbabwe, opting to bowl first, were met with the aggressive opening duo of Theo Wylie and Ben McKinney.
The openers raced to 39, maintaining a brisk run rate of seven runs per over. However, the partnership took a hit when skipper McKinney drove a full delivery from Anesu Kamuriwo straight into the hands of the cover fielder, squandering a promising start.
Jaydn Denly then came to the crease, looking to anchor the innings alongside the more enterprising Wylie. With the partnership starting to gain momentum, Denly went for a big loft down the ground, but miscued the hit to be caught out for 11.
England’s position worsened when Hamza Sheikh was controversially ruled out for obstructing the field. Sheikh had passed the ball from the batting crease with his hand to the wicket-keeper, prompting a Zimbabwean appeal that led to the third umpire’s intervention. After multiple replays, the third umpire’s decision went against England, much to their dismay.
Newman Nyamhuri added to England’s woes when he came around the wicket to induce an edge off Luc Benkenstein’s bat. Amidst these setbacks, Wylie remained composed and reached a brilliant fifty, continuing to make a significant impact in the tournament. With Charlie Allison providing support, England staged a promising recovery after being reduced to 79 for four.
Skipper Matthew Schonken brought himself into the attack and struck in his first over with a big scalp of Wylie for 61. The right-handed opener attempted a big sweep off the leg-spinner and a leading edge was pouched by the running fielder at fine leg.
Despite Wylie’s departure, Allison found a reliable partner in wicketkeeper Haydon Mustard. The two batsmen built a carefully crafted partnership, characterized by steady accumulation rather than explosive hitting. Only six boundaries were scored during their 71-run stand as England aimed to set a solid foundation for a late-innings surge.
But, a dent in that plan came when a mix-up between Allison and Mustard saw the latter run out for 41. Sebastian Morgan added a few vital runs from the down the order, forging a useful stand with Allison.
Allison only fell in the final over of the innings, having made a vital 76 to rebuild England’s innings that had suffered a mid-innings slump. His heroic effort allowed England to post a total of 237 runs on the board in their allotted fifty overs.
Zimbabwe were jolted early in the chase by left-arm spinner Charlie Barnard, who sent back Munashe Chimusoro and Ronak Patel, who came in earlier at No.3, in the same over. Panashe Taruvinga and Campell Macmillan looked to revive the innings, but the latter was bowled by Jaydn Denly’s left-arm spin for 10 in the eighth over.
Tazeem Ali’s introduction spelt doom for Zimbabwe as the leg-spinner ran through the rest of the batting line-up in arguably the best spell of the tournament. Ali, who had been the pick of England’s bowlers in the tournament, gave a strong impression in his final outing at the event with a remarkable seven-wicket haul.
Except Taruvinga, who played a lone hand in salvaging Zimbabwe’s innings, none of the other batters could handle Ali. Three of Ali’s seven wickets were bowled while another was leg-before-wicket as Zimbabwe went from 51/3 to 91 all out.
Ali registered the best figures in the tournament, and the fifth-best in the history of the Men’s U19 World Cup, with his exceptional 7/29.
England skipper Ben McKinney praised Tazeem Ali’s brilliant spell and spoke of his experience in the tournament.
“Obviously a bit disappointed with how the tournament panned out, but very happy with a win like that today. Tazeem was outstanding, it’s the best I have seen him bowl. The tournament has been a great experience for me and the team as well.”
Ireland beat New Zealand by 41 runs (DLS Method) in Bloemfontein
Ireland 267/9 (50 overs) v New Zealand 131/5 (32.1 overs)
In Bloemfontein, Ireland made a good start after opting to bat first, with the openers racing off the blocks in the Powerplay overs. Jordan Neill and Ryan Hunter unleashed a barrage of boundaries against the new ball. However, New Zealand’s captain, Oscar Jackson, introduced himself into the attack and made an immediate impact by uprooting Neill’s stumps in his very first over to break the opening partnership.
Matt Rowe had the dangerous Hunter nicking behind off an outswinger in the final over of the Powerplay. But that was the last wicket New Zealand would see for quite a while as Gavin Roulston and Kian Hilton exhibited resilience and formed a robust partnership for Ireland.
Hilton received a lifeline when he was on 11 when Lachlan Stackpole put down a tough chance at cover off Snehith Reddy’s bowling. Thereafter, it was tough going for New Zealand as Hilton and Roulston proceeded to grind the attack down with some solid batting.
While Hilton played positively to keep the scoreboard ticking, Roulston took a more cautious approach. Hilton reached his fifty in 62 balls, with Roulston still on 21. The partnership was eventually broken by a spectacular return catch by Robbie Foulkes.
Hilton smashed a full toss straight back at the bowler, who hung on terrifically to send the Irish batter back for 72. The 129-run partnership had, however, given Ireland a strong platform to go big in the final 15 overs.
Those plans were thwarted by Ewald Schreuder, who struck four times in two overs, including three times in one over, to put a halt on Ireland’s cruise. Roulston strived to up the ante in the next few overs, but fell for 82 in the final over. Ireland finished on 267 for nine in their fifty overs to set New Zealand a daunting target.
Bowlers Ollie Riley and Reuben Wilson made an impressive start for Ireland, maintaining tight control over the New Zealand openers and keeping them quiet. The pressure they created resulted in the first breakthrough, as Riley induced a miscued shot from Luke Watson, and Kian Hilton made a diving catch at gully to complete the dismissal.
James Nelson was let off by Daniel Forkin when a sharp return catch was put down, but a misunderstanding between Nelson and Foulkes put an end to the budding partnership. Nelson was run out for 35 as Ireland found a much-needed breakthrough.
Stackpole and Foulkes then decided to elevate the scoring rate, striking four boundaries in the next three overs. However, their ultra-aggressive approach ultimately proved costly. Foulkes attempted to power a short delivery from Riley but ended up offering a return catch to the bowler.
Riley continued to make a significant impact by claiming the crucial wicket of Oscar Jackson with a well-disguised slower ball that eluded the batsman’s blade and struck the stumps. Harry Dyer added to New Zealand’s woes when he deceived Snehith Reddy with a flighted delivery, leading to a stumping.
Following the wicket, play was abruptly interrupted as lightning struck in Bloemfontein, and unfortunately, the game never resumed. Ireland, well ahead on the DLS method, proceeded to secure a victory, concluding their tournament positively.
It was a historic win for Ireland as they beat New Zealand for the first-ever time in 50 attempts across men’s, women’s, and youth matches across formats.
Ireland captain Philippe le Roux expressed happiness at ending the tournament on a high.
“We are delighted with the win. The partnership between Kian Hilton and Gavin Roulston was crucial, setting up the game [for us]. I don’t think we capitalised at the end as much as we wanted. The bowlers put a lot of pressure early on. A bit of an anti-climactic end with the rain, but we’ll take the win.”