Christchurch: It was another thriller at the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, and yet again, Pakistan were involved.
Ali Zaryab once again had to perform a rescue act as his teammates floundered in a chase of 190 in the Super League quarter-final against South Africa at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Wednesday (24 January). His unbeaten 111-ball 74 propelled Pakistan after their bowlers had restricted South Africa to 189/9.
Given Pakistan’s top-order wobbles – a similar chase against Sri Lanka in their must-win final game was nervy as well – it was never going to be a straightforward chase.
Especially with Zaid Alam and Rohail Nazir, their openers, looking to attack the bowlers rather than build a solid foundation. Zaid fell for a 9-ball 15, holing out off Gerald Coetzee, Ammad Alam followed suit and the tone of the innings was set.
At 38/2, Nazir knuckled down along with Zaryab, and the two put on a steady 25-run stand, during the course of which Pakistan seemed to have revived their innings.
However, Nazir chased a Rolfes delivery wide outside off, nicking one to the ‘keeper, and it seemed a partnership just wasn’t on the cards for Pakistan. When Jason Niemand then had both captain Hassan Khan (14) and Mohammad Taha dismissed within four overs, Pakistan were 111/5 and South Africa seemed to have edged ahead.
In the morning, there was some debate over how the pitch would play. Pakistan chose to bowl, with captain Hassan Khan hoping for his seamers to make early inroads, while South African captain Raynard van Tonder said he would have batted on a good surface.
It was Hassan who was proven right, and spectacularly so at first, as his three fast bowlers reduced Pakistan to 43/4, finding movement in the air and extracting bounce from the pitch.
It was Musa who struck the key blow, and it was once again pace and bounce that did the trick, Makwetu being rushed into a pull and looping one to deep square leg. Though that put 250 out of range, South Africa at least got close to 200 thanks to Niemand and Jade de Klerk’s partnership of 36, the pair tucking around the change bowlers to good effect.
It was Shaheen who removed de Klerk, although from with a direct hit from long on rather than with a lifter from the crease, and from then on South Africa struggled, edging their way to their eventual total. It wasn’t quite sufficient.