Mohammad Huraira was the stand-out man for the side in green, with a swashbuckling half-century setting his country well on the way after they limited their opponents to just 189, a final-four clash against India their reward.
HURAIRA THE LYNCHPIN AS PAKISTAN MAKE LAST FOUR
A dashing half-century by Mohammad Huraira after a disciplined bowling display by the Pakistan bowlers helped them set up a semi-final showdown with India with a thumping six-wicket win over Afghanistan at Willowmoore Park in Benoni.
The right-hander, playing his first game of the competition, struck 64 off 76 balls to anchor his team’s pursuit of 190 with relative ease as they raced over the line in the quarter-final meeting with 53 balls to spare.
Mohammad Huraira of Pakistan hits the ball towards the boundary during the ICC U19 Cricket World Super League Quarter Final match between Afghanistan and Pakistan
“The coaches and the support staff gave me a lot of confidence,” Player-of-the-Match Huraira said. “I also had a lot of self-belief that whenever I get a chance, I will do my best. Today it came off all thanks to the Almighty.”
Huraira’s effort had come after watching his bowling team-mates combine nicely to dismantle the Afghans in the final over of the first innings.
It was a disappointing effort by their neighbours, who had won the toss and opted to take first strike only for their batsmen to struggle.
Captain and opener Farhan Zakhil was the top-scorer with 40 but the rest of his top order struggled.
Rahmanullah (30 off 39 balls) and Abid Mohammadi (28 off 57 balls) provided some runs in the middle order, but a regular loss of wickets to the miserly Tahir Hussain (1-28) and Aamir Ali (1-30) left them in a fix.
Mohammad Amir Khan (3-58) and Fahad Munir (2-29) were the most successful pair leaving a modest target for the Pakistanis.
Openers Haider Ali (28 off 34 balls) and Huraira then helped their side fly out of the blocks by putting on 61 in a little over 11 overs to settle any nerves.
Rohail Nazir (22 off 35 balls) was then part of a 56-run second-wicket stand that continued the momentum, and even though Noor Ahmad (2-32) did his best to drag Afghanistan back, Qasim Akram (25 off 41 balls) and Mohammad Haris (29 off 43 balls) finished the job with an unbroken 63-run partnership.
Pakistan will now meet old rivals India in the first semi-final on Tuesday.
“The India-Pakistan rivalry has always been there,” Huraira added. “There will be a bit more pressure, but we’ll get used to it. Myself, should I play, I’ll try and play it like a normal game, and we look forward to it.”
MADHEVERE EFFORT IN VAIN AS HILL STROKES ENGLAND INTO PLATE FINAL
England won their Plate semi-final against Zimbabwe by 75 runs, but they will remember the all-round skills of one Zimbabwean player for a while yet.
George Hill won the Player-of-the-Match award for his decisive 90 with the bat at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley, but Wesley Madhevere of Zimbabwe was a strong second option, having opened the bowling with his off-spin, snaring four for 42, before scoring a fluent 52 from 45 balls when opening the batting.
He was run out to end what looked like a serious challenge on the target of 287, and the chasing side never really maintained their interest once he departed.
Wessly Madhevere of Zimbabwe during the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Plate Quarter Final 3 match between Zimbabwe and Canada
England had won the toss and elected to bat first, in fine conditions at the Diamond Oval. Madhevere, playing in his third World Cup, was immediately on the prowl, snaring two wickets in the first ten overs.
Hill entered the fray at 82 for three after 17 overs, and immediately changed the flow of the game. Assertive footwork and some powerful shots off the slow bowlers saw the scoring rate rise, with Hill drilling six fours and a six.
“It’s a nice feeling to go out there and make runs again,” Hill said.
“The wicket was pretty flat against the seam bowlers, but once the ball got tacky, it was quite hard to score against the spinners.”
Jordan Cox, batting at first drop, scored a steady 59 from 76 balls, while skipper George Balderson weighed in with 45 not out in the latter stages, as England looked to climb beyond 300. But it was that man Madhevere who returned for the death overs, and he took the key wicket of Hill, denying the youngster a well-deserved century.
England eventually settled for 286 for nine, which was a massive ask for Zimbabwe. As long as Madhevere was at the crease, mixing deft with delightful, they felt they had a sniff. But, having reached his half-century, he was undone by smart fielding form Joey Evison.
Emmanuel Bawa (31 off 64 balls) and Sakhumuzi Ndlela (22 off 18 balls) battled on in vain, but Balderson’s three scalps, as well as Lewis Goldsworthy’s two for 29 in ten overs, saw to it that there was no momentum.
Zimbabwe were eventually all out for 211, with 55 balls still remaining in their innings, which pointed to what could have been with a bit more patience.
England, who have responded very well to being knocked out of the Cup competition, now head to the Plate final, where they will look to finish off their cricketing safari in style.
Reflecting on the team performance, Hill was pleased with all aspects on the day.
“To be honest, most things went right for us today. We were quite aggressive in the powerplay with the bat. With the ball, they batted really well at the top, but our spinners did really well to claw it back. Once the wickets started falling, I thought we were quite comfortable,” he enthused.
Scores in brief
Pakistan beat Afghanistan by six wickets, Willowmoore Park, Benoni
Afghanistan 189 all out, 49.1 overs (Farhan Zakhil 40, Abdul Rahman 30; Mohammad Amir Khan 3-58)
Pakistan 190-4, 41.1 overs (Mohammad Huraira 64, Mohammad Haris 29 not out; Noor Ahmad 2-22)
England beat Zimbabwe by 75 runs, Diamond Oval, Kimberley
England 286-9 in 50 overs (George Hill 90, Jordan Cox 59, George Balderson 45 not out; Wesley Madhevere 4-42)
Zimbabwe 211 all out in 40.5 overs (Taurayi Tugwete 58, Wesley Madhevere 52; George Balderson 3-29, Lewis Goldsworthy 2-29).
ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 Fixtures
15th Place Playoff: 1 February: Nigeria v Japan, Ibbies Oval, Potchefstroom
13th Place Playoff: 1 February: UAE v Canada, Witrand Oval, Potchefstroom
Super League Playoff Semi Final 1: 1 February: West Indies v South Africa, JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom
Super League Playoff Semi Final 2: 2 February: Australia v Afghanistan, North West University Oval, Potchefstroom
11th Place Playoff: 2 February: Scotland v Zimbabwe, Diamond Oval, Kimblerley
Plate Final: 3 February: Sri Lanka v England, Willowmoore Park, Benoni
Super League Semi Final 1: 4 February: India v Pakistan, JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom
Super League Semi Final 2: 6 February: New Zealand v Bangladesh https://www.cricketworld.com/