Australia vs Pakistan in Benoni, second semi-final
Shake: Australia won the draw and elected to participate
Result: Australia won by one wicket
Like India on Tuesday, Australia decided to compete against Pakistan in the second semi-final. Hugh Weibgen’s call was backed by his bowlers when Tom Straker led the charge with a six-wicket haul, helping defeat Pakistan for 179. Straker’s 6/24 were the best figures by a bowler in a semi-final or U19 World Cup final.
Pakistan fought back through Ali Raza (4/34) and Arafat Minhas (2/20) and had a chance to win till the end. However, Australia, guided by Harry Dixon and Oliver Peake, managed to edge out Pakistan by a slim margin.
How the chase unfolded
Harry Dixon and Sam Konstas helped Australia get off to a steady start in the quest for 180. The duo added 33 runs in the first Powerplay, but Ali Raza was unstoppable, breaking the stands at the start of the second Powerplay. He got one to put it back in and returned Konstas’ flip.
Pakistan then got a stroke of luck in the 14th over when captain Hugh Weibgen bowled a Naveed Khan full toss straight to Haroon Arshad at cover. The Wickets continued to fall – a miscommunication saw Harjas Singh run out in the 16th over and Ryan Hicks then played off a delivery from Ubaid Shah in the next over.
Dixon and Ollie Peake then teamed up to rebuild Australia’s innings. They made steady progress through some positive strokeplay and helped get Australia’s chase back on track when Dixon added to his half-century in the 24th over.
However, just as the game was turning in Australia’s favor, Minhas bowled Dixon with a beauty. He continued to trouble the Australians with his left-arm spin, bowling with immense control, and Australia’s asking price rose steadily.
The arrival of Tom Campbell allowed for a combination of left and right batting. Campbell and Peake formed a partnership and helped Australia get closer to its goal.
Pakistan needed something special to get back into the game, and Minhas provided exactly that, making Campbell bowl 25 in the 39th over. When Raza then removed the crucial Peake for 49, it was anyone’s game.
Raza’s double-wicket final put Pakistan just one wicket away from a place in the final. But Callum Vidler and Raf MacMillan kept their cool and took the game to the end.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, MacMillan edged Zeeshan early in the final over, and the ball evaded everyone to the fine-leg fence. Australia snuck in, much to Pakistan’s despair.