Pakistan celebrate taking another wicket during their Super League semi-final against Australia in the ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Friday. Pakistan won the match by 163 runs and will now face India in the final on Sunday. Pakistan are the current holders of the ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup. © ICC

Pakistan asserted their credentials as defending U-19 Word Cup Champions with a 163-run victory over Australia in the Super League Semi-Final. They will meet India in the Final.

One never knows which Pakistan will show up on the day – the team of flair but hapless shot selection and bat-beating but wayward bowling or the team of flair and discipline and controlled aggression. It was the latter that turned up to compete at the Premadasa stadium, but for a while it looked as if was the former.

Batting first, five batsmen were in the pavilion to a mixture of good Australian bowling and fielding and injudicious strokeplay. 80 for 5 in the 16th over was a fair reflection of the situation and at the rate they were going Pakistan could well have not crossed 150.

Australia captain Moises Henriques bowling, watched by Pakistan batsman Riaz Kail © ICC

The team is packed with batsmen though and in Riaz Kail and Ali Asad, Pakistan finally found a pair who could find the boundaries as well as run the singles. Riaz Khail, who had been the architect of the gritty victory against Zimbabwe in the quarter-final, played best of all and but for one chance to Usman Khwaja at mid-on when 23, never looked in any trouble.

Ali Asad on the attack © ICC

At the other end, Ali Asad was initially much more circumspect but between them the two put on 50 in 71 deliveries, 100 off 131 and ultimately, after Ali Asad’s dismissal for 66, they had put on 160 in 177 deliveries. Kail fell two balls later for 87. With Pakistan’s first two fifties of the competition, the game had been wrested from Australia who started to look just a little ragged in the field.

A bit of edge was injected into proceedings when Imad Wasim and wicket-keeper Matt Wade had a collision with the feisty Wade, with one eye no doubt on unsettling the batsman unleashed some verbals. Imad’s response was to hit out even further and his 29 off 15 deliveries saw Pakistan put on 49 runs in the last five overs.

Batting under lights, apart from a short practice the day before the semi-finals, was a totally new experience for the Australian batsmen as it had been for England. Inexperience or not, against bowling of the calibre shown by Pakistan’s new ball-bowlers Jamshaid Ahmed and Anwer Ali Khan any team would have struggled. Jamshaid had Cooper caught behind and the danger-man Australian captain Moises Henriques bowled off and middle. At the other end, Khan found considerable jag off the wicket and late swerve in the air until he tired towards the end of his ten-over spell and the ball lost its shine, was consistently the most threatening bowler.

Australia's Matt Wade is run out for 11 © ICC

Pakistan’s fielding under lights was superb and wicket-keeper captain Sarfaraz Ahmed who is always hoarse by the time of the post-match interviews as he chivvies and cajoles his team on the field to focus on every delivery with utmost intensity, marshalled his men well.

Only left-handed opener Usman Khwaja (59 off 69 deliveries) was able to survive for any length of time but it was never easy for him and once he was run-out in the 25th over with the required run-rate already over seven an over, Australia were well and truly out of it.

India’s bowlers against Pakistan’s batsmen, Pakistan’s bowlers against India’s batsmen will be quite a match-up. Pakistan have a little more experience of night cricket than India and one strongly suspects that for that reason as well as a desire to impose every ounce of pressure in a run-chase to win a World Cup Final that the side winning the toss will choose to bat first on the 19th.

Pakistan have the blemish of a loss to Bangladesh in the group matches and India, just because their batsmen have all made runs and have been won all of their games by a huge margin, may ultimately have the edge. Pakistan, however, may just turn up with an even better performance than the one against Australia.

It should be an awesome Final, Indian and Pakistani talents to the fore. Subcontinental advantage may be one factor but they also have genuinely good players who have proven themselves to be better than the rest.

Super League Semi-Final 2: Australia v Pakistan, R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Pakistan won the toss and elected to field
Pakistan: 287 for 9 off 50 overs (A. Asad 66, R. Kail 87; M. Henriques 3-58)
Australia: 124 off 32.3 overs (U. Khwaja 59; U. Malik 3-17, I. Wasim 3-16)
Man of the Match: Riaz Kail (Pakistan)
View Scorecard >>

Filed February 18 2006