Australia takes out thrilling World Cup semi

AUSTRALIA has scraped past Pakistan in a thrilling Under 19 World Cup semi-final overnight, setting up a meeting with India in Sunday’s decider. The Aussies surpassed a modest total of 179 with just one wicket and five deliveries in hand, making for a tense finish at Willowmoore Park.

A 17-run partnership for the 10th wicket got Australia home, as Raf MacMillan (19*) hit the winning boundary with an inside edge which raced down to fine leg. The pair came together with Australia 9-164, requiring 16 runs for victory off 24 balls having lost consecutive wickets.

While MacMillan was tasked with the game-winning moment, Player of the Match Tom Straker set up Australia’s victory with 6-24 in the first innings, including 46 dot balls. He hadn’t played in the three games leading up to yesterday’s semi, yet produced record figures.

Australia elected to bowl first and had Pakistan reeling at 5-79 after 28 overs, going at under three runs per for each set of six. Arafat Minhas (52 off 61) and opener Azan Awais (52 off 91) put on a crucial 54-run stand to not only steady the ship, but also spark a mini counter-attack.

The scoring rate lifted to 3.66 runs per over as Pakistan was bowled out seven deliveries shy of the full 50 overs. Along with Straker, four other Aussie bowlers snared wickets while all holding an economy rate under five, including MacMillan’s 1-29.

In response, Victorians Harry Dixon (50 off 75) and Oliver Peake (49 off 75) were the mainstays as wickets tumbled throughout Australia’s chase. Pacey 15-year-old Ali Raza was the pick of the bowlers with 4-34, while Minhas (2-20) compiled 41 dot balls in a terrific all-round effort.

Only one game remains to decide who will be crowned this year’s Under 19 World Champion. India, defending its crown and searching for a record sixth title, will prove stiff opposition for the Aussies. The nine-time finalists have made the last five Under 19 deciders, including Sunday’s.

Australia has not lifted the Under 19 World Cup trophy since 2010, and will look to do so in a rematch of the 2023 men’s ODI final. Both sides have navigated the tournament undefeated thus far and are yet to meet. Willowmoore Park will again play host to proceedings.

>> Match Report: India into fifth-straight U19 World Cup final


RESULT: Australia def. Pakistan by 1 wicket with 5 balls remaining.
POTM: Tom Straker (Australia)

Australia won the toss & elected to bowl.

PAKISTAN 10-179 (48.5)
Azan Awais 52 (91), Arafat Minhas 52 (61), Shamyl Hussain 17 (23)
Tom Straker 6-24 (9.5), Tom Campbell 1-23 (6), Raf MacMillan 1-29 (10)

AUSTRALIA 9-181 (49.1)
Harry Dixon 50 (75), Oliver Peake 49 (75), Tom Campbell 25 (42)
Ali Raza 4-34 (10), Arafat Minhas 2-20 (10), Naveed Ahmed 1-25 (10)

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