Pakistan pulled off a spectacular three-wicket win over England to enter the Under 19 Cricket World Cup final on Monday.
Chasing a target of 205, Pakistan were 142-7 in 36.5 overs as some fine bowling and brilliant fielding from England tightened the noose around Sami Aslam’s men.
Pakistan's top scorer in the match Saud Shakeel (45) was also back in the hut and it seemed then that all the hard work that Pakistan had put in with the ball would go to waste.
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.
All-rounders Amad Butt (26) and Zafar Gohar (37), however, held their nerve in a 63-run partnership to take the two-time champions home with five balls to spare to reach its fifth ICC U19 Cricket World Cup final.
In Saturday’s final at Dubai International Stadium, Pakistan will face the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal 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.
A delighted Pakistan captain Sami Aslam later said: “I think some of the players played some bad shots. But I think Saud Shakeel controlled the innings well, and then Amad Butt and Zafar Gohar won us the game.
“Zafar Gohar is a very good all-rounder. We were always confident that he would win us the match. He played very sensibly and stayed till the end.”
Reflecting on the match, England captain Will Rhodes said: “Pakistan are tough opponents. We’ve played them numerous times, recently in England and I wish them the very best of luck for the final.
“We came so close that it was heartbreaking to lose the game, but this is the way cricket goes and unfortunately it didn’t go our way today.”
Pakistan, in its run-chase, got another solid 41-run start from Sami Aslam (18) and Imam-ul-Haq (28) when it was reduced to 57 for four.
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.
Scores in brief:
Super League semifinal
Pakistan beat England by 3 wickets at Dubai International Stadium: England 204-7, 50 overs (Will Rhodes 76 not out, Ryan Higgins 52, Ben Duckett 22; Karamat Ali 2-36, Amad Butt 2-43, Zia-ul-Haq 2-46) Pakistan 205-7, 49.1 overs (Saud Shakeel 45, Zafar Gohar 37 not out, Ameer Hamza 35, Imam-ul-Haq 28, Amad Butt 26 not out; Matthew Fisher 2-21, Rob Sayer 2-39, Rob Jones 2-39)
Man of the match – Zafar Gohar (Pakistan)
Super League play-off
India beat Sri Lanka by 76 runs at ICC Academy 1: India 291-7, 50 overs (Deepak Hooda 76 (not out), Shreyas Iyer 59, Sanju Samson 40, Ankush Bains 29, Akhil Herwadkar 23; Hashen Ramanayake 2-46, AK Tyronne 2-59, Anuk Fernando 2-79) Sri Lanka 215 all out, 48.1 overs (Sadeera Samarawickrama 58, Priyamal Perera 47, Hashen Ramanayake 27, Lakshan Jayasinghe 25 (not out); Deepak Hooda 3-31, Chama Milind 2-19, Karan Kaila 2-39, Kuldeep Yadav 2-54)
Man of the match – Deepak Hooda (India)
Plate Championship play-off
Namibia beat Canada by 23 runs at ICC Academy 2: Namibia 263-9, 50 overs (Jano Coetzee 73, Malan Kruger 57, Zane Green 57; Tahla Sheikh 2-33, Nitish Kumar 2-44) Canada 240 all out, 47.3 overs (Yug Rao 66, Trevor Manoosingh 30, Nikhil Dutta 28, Tahla Sheikh 27, Nitish Kumar 24, Keenen Tinto 23; Jano Coetzee 3-37, JJ Smit 2-49, Bredell Wessells 2-57)
Plate Championship play-off
Scotland beat PNG by 77 runs at Abu Dhabi Oval 1: Scotland 209 all out, 48.3 overs (Michael English 72, Ross McLean 41; Nosaina Pokana 3-27, Alei Nao 2-29, Kabua Morea 2-31) PNG 132 all out, 43.3 overs (Riley Hekure 26, Allan Joseph 26; Mark Watt 3-26, Ross McLean 3-31, Chayank Gosain 2-22)
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.