Zafar Gohar and Amad Butt, the number eight and nine respectively proved to be the stars in the late order resurgence as Pakistan Undder-19s edged past their English counterparts in the last over thrilling semis at Dubia to make it to the summit clash of the ICC Under-19 World Cup.
The pair combined together with Pakistan staring down the barrel at 142 for 7 in their chase of 205, and defied English spinners on a slow deck to get their side over the line with a three-wicket victory and a place in the finals.
England lost the plot in the finals moments of the chase both with the ball in hand and in the field, dishing some hittable lengths and aiding Pakistan with some shoddy fumbles as Gohar and Butt made sure they didn’t let any opportunity to go by. Needing four runs in the last over, Butt slammed the first ball over covers for a winning boundary as him and Gohar were mobbed by their teammates in wild celebrations.
The pair put on undefeated 67 run partnership to get their side into final. Gohar, the man of the match, scored 53-ball 37 and Butt contributed 26.
Pakistan had a decent start with openers putting on 41, but a major collapse saw the green shirts tottering at 57 for 4 with both their reliable batters skipper Sami Aslam and his opening partner Imam Ul Haq back in the hutch.
There was a rearguard stand between Saud Shakeel and Ameer Hamza, taking the score to 131 in 32nd over thanks to 74 run stand.
But, once Hamza perished there was another batting collapse with Pakistan losing three wickets including Shakeel for 11, and it looked their chances were gone bar the shouting. It wasn’t to be, though with Gohar and Butt mixing common sense with some skill level to guide their side home.
Earlier Pakistan bowling was disciplined for the major part of English innings, but late flurry of boundaries from the skipper Will Rhodes meant his side got past 200-run mark. Rhodes hit an unbeaten 79-ball 76 laced with four fours and six after Ryan Higgins made a battling half century to thwart Pakistan bowling unit that had England in early trouble at 39 for 3.
Left arm pacer Zia ul Haq and his partner Butt removed both openers for duck before the former snared Ben Duckket to leave England reeling.
Introduction of spin didn’t let English middle order got off the hook as they had to work hard for the runs.
Leggie Karmat Ali got a brace of wickets and Kamran Ghulam had a wicket as well to reduce England to 119 for 6 in 38th over before Rhodes got into act in Rob Sayers’ company to give more than something to his bowlers to bowl at.
When England removed Saud Shakeel, they would have thought of a place in the summit clash and were in delirious mood, but Gohar and Butt made sure Pakistan were the team that were celebrating in the end.
BRIEF SCORES: Pakistan Under-19s 205 for 7 (Shakeel 45, Gohar 37*) beat England Under-19s 204 for 7 (Rhodes 76*, Higgins 52) by three wickets