Pakistan U19 skipper reacts after costly mistake in final over against Australia

Pakistan U19 went down fighting in a close encounter against Australia U19 in the ICC U19 World Cup semi-final, played at Willowmoore Park, Benoni. After being put to bat first, Pakistan U19 were dismissed for 179. In turn, Australia U19 managed to chase the target in the last over, with just one wicket in the bag.

The turning point of the match occurred during the penultimate over of the match. Captain Saad Baig took his time to strategize, which resulted in the team exceeding the stipulated time for bowling. According to the ICC over-rate rule introduced in early 2022, teams are penalized for slow over-rate by reducing the number of fielders allowed outside the inner circle for each over bowled beyond the specified time. This forced Pakistan to bring the fine leg inside the circle, and ironically, an inside edge from that very region led to Australia’s victory by one wicket.

Former cricketer Ian Bishop, providing commentary, pointed out that adhering to the rules could have restricted the boundary to a single, altering the outcome of the match.

In his post-match remarks, Saad Baig acknowledged that the team fell short by 10 to 20 runs. Despite the disappointment, he commended the team’s efforts in the close encounter, praising the brilliant performance of bowler Ali Raza. 

“Difficult to accept as a losing team. We were short by 10 or 20 runs. We put in a lot of effort, and we played well. Boys fought really well. The way Ali Raza bowled was brilliant. All the team fought really well. I think that we were short of runs. The lack of runs, maybe 15-20 runs,” Baig said after the match.

“But we played well, fought well. But Australia played very well. All the boys throughout the tournament were brilliant. Our bowling was really well in the tournament. As a captain, I am proud to be leading a country. One team has to lose, one has to win. Doesn’t matter.”

Fifteen-year-old Ali Raza emerged as a standout performer, stunning the cricketing world with his exceptional bowling. Raza claimed the crucial first wicket by dismissing Sam Konstas and continued to create obstacles for Australia by taking the wickets of Peake, Straker, and Beardman. His impressive spell of four wickets for 34 runs played a significant role in Pakistan’s performance, despite the ultimate defeat.