Johannesburg, Feb 3 (IANS) Pakistan defended a low total in Benoni against Bangladesh to become the fourth semifinalist 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. Pakistan were bowled out for 155 in 40.4 overs Ubaid Shah then claimed 5-44 in 10 overs and Ali Raza claimed 3-44 as Pakistan bowled out Bangladesh for 150 in 35.5 overs to win the match by five runs.
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 semifinal fixtures have been identified. India will play South Africa in the first semifinal in Benoni on February 6 while Pakistan will take on Australia in the other semi at the same venue on February 8.
In a high-stakes Super Six clash in Benoni, Pakistan and Bangladesh faced off, with a semifinal 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 semifinals of the tournament.