Lincoln: Defending champions India crumbled under pressure in the battle of sub-continental rivals, as Pakistan sent them packing with a two-wicket triumph in a thrilling rain-hit Super League quarterfinal of the ICC Under-19 cricket World Cup.
Pakistan opted to bowl first in the match, which became a 23-overs-a-side affair due to overnight rain, and skittled India out for a paltry 114 for nine.
In reply, Pakistan huffed and puffed their way to the target in 22.3 overs thanks to some valuable late order contributions to keep their unbeaten run at the event intact.
The Pakistani top order collapsed and the team score read 16 for three in just under seven overs.
However, Ahsan Ali brought them back into the match with a 45-ball 30 before being run out by Jaydev Unadkat.
Wickets tumbled at regular intervals but Pakistan kept themselves in the hunt with some brisk scoring.
Rameez Aziz (28) and Hammad Azam (21 not out) turned out to be the heroes for Pakistan as they found the boundaries and sixes when it mattered the most in a cliffhanger of a match.
Azam hit Sandeep Sharma for a massive six in the 20th over to bring down the required run-rate below run-a-ball.
Needing 12 off 16 balls, Azam ensured a Pakistani victory with a couple of fours and some swift running between the wickets even as wickets fell around him.
Earlier, put in to bat, Indian innings was off to a disastrous start as they lost Rahul Kannaur off the very first ball of the match when Pakistan’s wrecker-in-chief Fayyaz Butt castled him.
Mayank Aggarwal didn’t last long either and after contributing just two runs to the total, he followed his fellow opener back to the pavilion, edging one from Butt to wicket-keeper Mohammad Waqas.
In came Mandeep Singh, who quickly got into the task of rebuilding the innings. Although his 40-run knock had just two boundaries his quick running between the wickets ensured that innings took just 44 deliveries.
But barring Mandeep’s valiant effort, it was a shoddy display by the rest of the line-up as Pakistani bowlers exploited the seaming conditions on an overcast day to the fullest.
Butt returned figures of 4 for 27 in his four overs and his effort was well complemented by left-arm spinner Raza Hasan, who picked up three wickets, conceding 26 runs in five overs.
Pakistan will now take on the West Indies in the first semi-final on Monday. The West Indies beat England by 18 runs in the other quarterfinal.