DUBAI: Zafar Gohar and Amad Butt put on 63 runs for the unfinished eighth wicket as Pakistan defeated England by three wickets in a low-scoring but nerve-racking thriller to reach its fifth ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup final in front of Star Sports cameras at Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Monday. Zafar, later adjudged man of the match, scored a priceless 37 not out and Amad chipped in with an invaluable 26 not out as Pakistan returned from 142 for seven in pursuit of a 205-run target to achieve a memorable victory with five balls to spare. Pakistan, winner in 2004 and 2006, had needed 36 from the last five overs, then 12 runs off 12 balls and finally four runs off the last over. In Saturday’s final at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Pakistan will face the winner of Wednesday’s second semi-final between Australia and South Africa.
While the victory has kept Pakistan on course for its third ICC U19 Cricket World Cup title, it was a heart-breaking result for England, which had come agonising close to its first final since winning the title in 1998. Zafar, who also played in the 2012 tournament in Townsville, hit three fours in a 53-ball innings while Amad, who hit the winning runs, hit two fours and a six in a 37-ball innings.
Pakistan, in its run-chase, had failed to capitalise from another solid 41-run start from Sami Aslam (18) and Imamul Haq (28) when it was reduced to 57 for four. Saud Shakeel (45) and Ameer Hamza (35) took the score to 131 before the two, as well as wicketkeeper Saifullah Khan, fell victim to over-adventurous shots to leave Pakistan reeling at 142 for seven in 37 overs.
Sayer was the bowler who gave England a sniff of victory when he accounted for Imam and Ameer as he finished with figures of two for 39. Fisher bowled his heart out and was rewarded with the wickets of Saud and Saifullah as he finished with two for 21. Rob Jones picked up the scalps of Imam and Kamran Ghulam (0) conceding 39 runs.
Earlier, England captain Will Rhodes hit a well-constructed 76 not out and lifted his side to 204 for seven after it had slipped to two for one and then 119 for six. England, after electing to bat first, made a horror start when it lost both its openers with one run on the board. England plunged into further trouble when its in-form batsman Ben Duckett (22) also returned to the dressing room to make the score 38 for three.
Ryan Higgins then held the middle-order together when he added 31 for the fourth wicket with Ed Barnard (13) and another 50 runs with Rhodes. Higgins departed at the score of 119 after scoring a patient 52 off 99 balls with one four, as wicketkeeper Joe Clarke’s first-ball dismissal reduced England to 119 for six in 37.4 overs.
Rhodes, who had a quiet tournament until the semi-final, then rose to the occasion and delivered some lusty blows, particularly in the late overs to take the score to 204 for seven. Rhodes was unbeaten on 76 from 79 balls with four fours and a six, and received good support from Sayer (18 not out) with whom he put on 50 runs in 31 balls for the unfinished eighth wicket, including 26 runs in the last three overs.
For Pakistan, wrist spinner Karamat Ali finished as the pick of the bowlers with two for 36 while fast bowlers Amad Butt and Zia-ul-Haq equally shared four wickets between them conceding 43 and 46 runs, respectively.
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