Ali Zaryab leads Pakistan into U-19 WC semis

Ali Zaryab Asif's unbeaten 74 paved the way for the two-time junior champion in the chase after Muhammad Musa and Shaheen Shah Afridi had restricted the Proteas to 189/9.

File image of Pakistan U-19 cricket team during the ICC-19 World Cup.   -  ICC

Pakistan is through to the semifinals of the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup after a three-wicket victory over South Africa at Christchurch on Wednesday.

Ali Zaryab Asif's unbeaten 74 paved the way for the two-time junior champion in the chase after Muhammad Musa and Shaheen Shah Afridi had restricted the Proteas to 189/9 in the first innings of the match.

Zaryab stitched a crucial 65-run stand with Saad Khan for the sixth wicket which brought the side within 15 runs of the target.

The two cut out all the loose, risky shots, opting to stonewall and inch their way ahead. It was the need of the hour. However, in a burst of exuberance, he charged Kgaudisa Molefe and holed out. Muhammad Musa was dismissed for nought, and South African hopes once again rose.

Zaryab, who scored 59 against Sri Lanka in the previous match, stood tall till the end to see out the winning run.

In the morning, there was some debate over how the pitch would play. Pakistan chose to bowl, with captain Hassan Khan hoping for his seamers to make early inroads, while South African captain Raynard van Tonder said he would have batted on a good surface.

Hassan was proven right as Musa and Afridi blew away South Africa's top order to leave the opposition stranded on 43-4 within 15 overs. Wicket-keeper batsman Wandile Makwetu's 60 resurrected the score to 189 with some help from the lower order.

Makwetu and Jean du Plessis initially struggled against the fast bowling as well, even as Makwetu struck the only six of the innings, a top edge over fine leg. But with the introduction of spin South Africa found stability, Makwetu sweeping well, and du Plessis content to rotate the strike.

It was Musa who struck the key blow, and it was once again pace and bounce that did the trick, Makwetu being rushed into a pull and looping one to deep square leg.

Pakistan will now go onto face the winner of the quarterfinal between Bangladesh and India which is scheduled for Friday.

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