A half-century from opener Muhammad Huraira on debut and a fine bowling performance powered Pakistan to a six-wicket win over Afghanistan in the ICC U-19 World Cup Benoni on Friday, setting up an exciting semi-final against arch-rivals India.
Afghanistan fought hard after posting 189 but just did not have enough runs on the board. Huraira, playing his first game of the tournament, struck a match-winning knock in the fourth quarter-final.
Qasim Akram (25 not out off 41 balls)and Mohammad Haris (29 not out off 43) saw the team through in just 41.1 overs. Tahir Hussain (1/28 in 10 overs), Fahad Munir (2/29 in 7) and Mohammad Amir Khan (3/58 in 10) were the pick of the Pakistan bowlers.
Defending champions India and Pakistan play their semi-final in Potchefstroom on February 4. India had beaten Australia in their quarter-final match.
Talking about the team’s performance, Pakistan captain Rohail Nazir said: “We dropped 2-3 early catches and had we held on, we could have restricted them to a lesser total. The spinners bowled really well in the middle overs and bowled them out for 190. The wicket was turning a bit and our plan was to rotate strike. The opening partnership was good and we played sensibly in the middle overs.”
On the India game, he added: “It is another game. India is a good side and we need to play good cricket. The crowd really motivated us, appreciated us and I hope they turn up for the semifinal and cheer for us.”
Afghanistan captain Farhan Zakhil said 189 was defendable. “The wicket was good and our batsmen did not take responsibility. They bowled well and created the chances. 190 was a par score for our bowlers. We expected our fast bowlers to provide early wickets and they were not able to do that,” said Zakhil.