Dubai: Hosts UAE pulled off stunning 11-run win over Pakistan in the semifinals of the Asia Cup Under-19 at ICC Academy grounds on Friday.
Skipper Aayan Afzal Khan was the hero for the hosts, scoring a 57-ball 55 to give UAE a fighting total to be adjudged Player of the Match for the third successive time. He then followed it up with a miserly spell against the famed Pakistan batting and was well assisted by pacer Obaid Rehman and Hardik Pai, who claimed two wickets. However, pacer Ayman Ahamed saved his best for the last claiming two crucial wickets to seal the win, while off-spinner Dhruv Parashar claimed a crucial wicket of Amir Hassan, who was threatening to take the match away with a 44-run eighth wicket partnership with Ali Asfand.
UAE will meet Bangladesh in the final at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday after the Tigers eased to four-wicket win over world champions India in the other semifinal. The Emirates Cricket Board has announced that fans will be allowed free entry in the Dubai International Stadium spectator stands for Sunday’s final.
Usmani praises historic achievement
Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary of Emirates Cricket Board, said: “We are delighted with the team’s sensational performance and congratulate all the players and the coaching staff on this historic achievement. The players and coaches have worked tirelessly to produce these results, the future of UAE cricket is incredibly bright and these are the players who will take the sport to the next level.
“On behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board, I request the fans to come in big numbers and support our youngsters who have made us proud with their outstanding performance. The final at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday will have free entry for fans.”
Chasing 194 for winning the low-scoring contest, Pakistan innings lost its way in the 23rd when Ammar Badami broke the third wicket partnership between skipper Saad Baig and Azan Awais. Baig lost his wicket after reaching the half-century when he was caught behind by Aryansh Sharma, bringing an end to the 83-run partnership. That wicket opened the floodgates and Harshit Pai dismissed Riaz Ullah with a beauty that spun and got the Pakistan batter bowled after a well set Awais was run out to a smart fielding.
The pressure got the better of Pakistan batters and two more run outs left the Group A table-toppers precariously placed at 121 for 7.
The hosts kept tightening the screws and didn’t allow any breathing space for Pakistan.
Put in to bat, the UAE found the going difficult against a sustained bowling from Pakistan and lost wickets at regular intervals. Opener Aryansh Sharma scored a battling 46 while four wickets fell at the other end. Aayan and Ethan D’Souza steadied the innings. Pakistan pacer Ubaid Shah was the main bowler with four wickets.
Ayman confident of doing his job
“In the last few months we've been playing lots of domestic games and I have been coming out strong in the final. So when the captain asked me to bowl the 18th over, I was confident of doing my job. I backed myself in that situation and bowled yorkers, and it worked out very well,” said Ayman, who gave away three runs and picked up two wickets in his last nine deliveries. The pacer, who didn’t have a good first spell when he conceded 15 runs in two overs, was unfortunate to see a catch dropped at deep point by Omid Rehman in his third over. Unperturbed by the dropped chance, Ayman went about his task to contain the batters and finally was rewarded with two wickets in the final over.
“At that point, Pakistan were under more pressure than us, I knew he's going get another chance if I bowl well,” he added, who is studying Finance in University of Wollongong. “Right from the start, we always had the belief that we could win. And after the second wicket, we knew our chances would come, but when the game started slipping away from us, the run outs brought us back into the game.”
Match-winning knock by Ariful
World champions India suffered a big loss against Bangladesh after failing to get a good total on the board. It is the second loss for India after losing to Pakistan in the opener on Sunday and for the second time in the tournament the batters have failed to make the most of the conditions to finish with an under-par score. Half-centuries from Musheer Khan and Murugan Abhishek helped India recover from a disastrous 61 for six to 188 all out in 42.4 overs. Khan, brother Mumbai batter Sarfaraz Khan, and Abhishek added 84 runs for the seventh wicket.
Chasing a paltry target, Bangladesh made a mess of the chase and were down 34 for three, including the opener Ashiqur Rahman Shibli, who had scored an unbeaten century against Sri Lanka in their previous game. But Ariful Islam, who was involved in the run out of Rahman Shibli, made sure that he led the team to victory with a calculated assault of 94 that included nine fours and four sixes. He added 138 runs for the fourth wicket with Ahrar Amin, who overcame a shaky start to score 44. Bangladesh lost three quick wickets towards the end, but there were no alarm bells as they cruised with plenty of overs to spare.