Pak beat Windies, reach U-19 Final


LINCOLN: Hammad Azam guided Pakistan to a tight win to ensure their progress into the final of the Under-19 World Cup.

West Indies, backed by Kraigg Brathwaite's 85, had posted a competitive 212 and looked good defend it after an early burst by their seamers had reduced Pakistan to 49 for 4. But Hammad, aided by valuable contributions from Rameez Aziz and Mohammad Waqas, fought hard with an unbeaten 92 to seal victory by four wickets with nine balls to spare.

With conditions supporting the seamers early on, Jason Holder, dented Pakistan at the start of their chase. He nipped out the openers Ahmed Shehzad and Pakistan's highest scorer Babar Azam in no time. Pakistan captain Azeem Ghumman fell next after promising to revive his team in a 26-run stand with Ahsan Ali, but when both fell within a space of 14 runs, West Indies were favourties.
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Hammad has been Pakistan's saviour with the bat in the tournament. He has proved extremely handy at the death, helping his side to nerve-wracking last-over wins against Bangladesh and India. His partner Rameez held one end together, taking 81 balls for his 39 which included just two boundaries, but Hammad ensured the pressure of a creeping run rate did not hamper the stand. He found the fence with consistency and rotated the strike well to add 90 for the fifth wicket.

Rameez's dismissal gave West Indies another opening, but their hopes of choking the runs were thwarted by Hammad's attacking partnership with Mohammad Waqas. They added 64 in less than nine overs, with Waqas racing to 29 in 23 balls to get Pakistan within striking distance. Waqas holed out to long-on in the 48th over but Hammad swept a boundary three balls later to bring the equation down to 6 off 13.