CHRISTCHURCH: A composed unbeaten half-century from Ali Zaryab ensured Pakistan a Super League semi-final place in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup with a three-wicket win over South Africa here on Wednesday.
The left-handed Ali compiled a cautious but attractive 111-ball knock of 74, studded with five boundaries, that took two-time champions Pakistan to their target of 190 in 47.5 overs after the pace-duo of Mohammad Musa and Shaheen Shah Afridi had shared five scalps to help restrict South Africa to 189 for nine at the Hagley Oval.
The quarter-final victory over the 2014 champions means Pakistan will now play the winners of Friday’s quarter-final between India and Bangladesh in the second semi-final in Christchurch on Tuesday.
The 2004 and 2006 champions had to be thankful to Ali, who was not perturbed even as the Asian side was reduced to 111 for five after all-rounder Jason Niemand gave South Africa a glimmer of a hope with the wickets of captain Hassaan Khan and Mohammad Taha.
But in Saad Khan (26 off 62 balls, three fours), Ali found an able partner and added 65 crucial runs for the sixth wicket, which proved to be decisive in a low-scoring affair.
This was Ali’s third half-century in the tournament and second successive player-of-the-match award after his 59 in another low-scoring match against Sri Lanka had ensured Pakistan not only qualified for the Super League but eventually topped their group ahead of Afghanistan.
Earlier in the day, Musa and Afridi justified Hassaan’s decision to bowl first as they made deep inroads into a strong South Africa’s batting line-up.
Afridi struck as soon as he was introduced into the attack in the sixth over and along with new-ball bowler Musa, seized the initiative for his team.
Afridi struck two telling blows as he removed openers Matthew Breetzke (12) and Jiveshan Pillay (14) just as they looked to be batting themselves in. He then got Breetzke to edge one to wicket-keeper Rohail Nazir before bowling Pillay with an in-swinger that went through taking the inside edge of the bat.
The pair of dismissals took Afridi’s tally in the tournament to 11, the joint-highest along with Canada’s Faisal Jamkhandi.
Musa was not the one to be left behind as he chipped in with the wickets of captain Raynard van Tonder (4) and Hermann Rolfes (5) as South Africa were left reeling at 43 for four in the 15th over. Van Tonder was caught at mid-off off a leading edge while Rolfes was caught behind the wicket off an inner edge.
Musa also dismissed a well-set Makwetu, who was the top scorer with a 65-ball 60 featuring four boundaries and a six, out pulling the ball, to further reduce South Africa’s chances of a fightback.
A couple of run outs and some good support from the spin bowlers kept Pakistan in tight control of the proceedings.
Hassaan later said he was hoping his team would bat better in upcoming matches while praising his players.
“We could have finished it more easily but I think it is a learning experience for all of us. Hopefully, we will learn from the mistakes and not repeat them in the next match,” the Pakistan captain said. “The way they [Musa and Afridi] have bowled throughout and the way they have bowled today is outstanding. I’m relaxed with the boys, the way they are bowling, and really happy and looking forward to other matches. Ali is the wall for our Pakistan Under-19 team. The way he has batted today and [in the] previous match as well, I hope he will continue his form and do well in the next few matches as well.”
Ali said this was the biggest moment of his career so far. “I was always confident I could win the match and knew I had to aim to bat the full 50 overs. This is a huge win for us, a morale-booster since it was a big knock-out match. The game was broadcast live and the whole world was watching us. There can’t be a better feeling and the whole team is now looking ahead to the semifinals with confidence.”
South Africa captain Raynard Van Tonder, meanwhile, lamented his team’s inept batting.
“Our top order did not step up today. Our middle order batted us to a decent position but we were some 20 runs short. As a batting unit we have not really stood up. We put ourselves in trouble with the bat in every game,” he said.
Super League quarter-final: Afghanistan v New Zealand (Hagley Oval, Christchurch).
Plate Championship: PNG v Ireland (13th place play-off), Rangiora, Christchurch; Namibia v Kenya (13th place play-off), Lincoln No.3, Christchurch; Zimbabwe v Sri Lanka (Plate semi-final 1), Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Christchurch.
M.P. Breetzke c Rohail b Afridi 12
J. Pillay b Afridi 14
R. van Tonder c Hassaan b Musa 4
H. Rolfes c Rohail b Musa 5
W. Makwetu c Ali b Musa 60
J. du Plessis c Musa b Hassaan 21
J. Niemand b Arshad 36
J. de Klerk run out 16
G. Coetzee run out 3
A. Mnyaka not out 5
K. Molefe not out 4
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-2, W-6) 9
TOTAL (for nine wks, 50 overs) 189-9
FALL OF WKTS: 1-21, 2-30, 3-36, 4-43, 5-102, 6-135, 7-171, 8-176, 9-181.
BOWLING: Arshad Iqbal 8-0-26-1 (2w); Mohammad Musa 10-0-29-3 (4w); Shaheen Shah Afridi 10-0-30-2; Hassaan Khan 10-1-40-1; Suleman Shafqat 9-0-47-0; Mohammad Taha 2-0-7-0; Zaid Alam 1-0-7-0.
Zaid Alam c Rolfes b Coetzee 15
Rohail Nazir c Makwetu b Rolfes 23
Ammad Alam c Coetzee b Mnyaka 9
Ali Zaryab not out 74
Hassaan Khan c and Niemand 14
M. Taha c Makwetu b Niemand 9
Saad Khan c Pillay b Molefe 26
Mohammad Musa lbw b de Klerk 0
Shaheen Shah Afridi not out 1
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-18) 19
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 47.5 overs) 190
FALL OF WKTS: 1-19, 2-38, 3-63, 4-95, 5-111, 6-176, 7-180.
DID NOT BAT: Suleman Shafqat, Arshad Iqbal.
BOWLING: Coetzee 10-0-53-1 (10w); Mnyaka 6-0-21-1 (1w); Rolfes 7-0-22-1 (4w); Molefe 5.5-1-22-1 (2w); Breetzke 1-0-7-0; de Klerk 8-1-33-1 (1w); Niemand 10-1-31-2.
RESULT: Pakistan won by three wickets.
UMPIRES: C.K. Nandan (India) and P. Wilson (Australia).
TV UMPIRE: R.T. Robinson (England).
MATCH REFEREE: D.T. Jukes (England).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Ali Zaryab.