SHARJAH - In-form openers Sami Aslam and Imam-ul-Haq continued to pile up the runs to help Pakistan Under-19s crush Sri Lanka Under-19s in the quarter-finals in Sharjah. The pair put on 177, the second-highest partnership in the tournament, to set the base for a total which proved well out of Sri Lanka's reach.
Both Imam and Aslam preferred to bide their time, but ended their innings with strike-rates in the late 70s. No. 3 Kamram Ghulam hammered 52 off 44 balls to push Pakistan to 279. Imam's 82 made him the tournament's highest run-getter, and captain Aslam's 95 put him third on the charts.
Pakistan lost six wickets in the final 23 deliveries of the innings, but that didn't prevent them from adding 32 in that stretch. For Sri Lanka, left-arm quick Binura Fernando went at over six an over, but struck four times to go to second on the list of the tournament's highest wicket-takers.
While Sri Lanka took 37 overs to get their first breakthrough, Pakistan got theirs in the first ball itself when opener Hashan Dumindu was bowled by Zia-ul-Haq. The chase went awry soon after, as two run-outs left Sri Lanka at 44 for 3.
Opener Sadeera Samarawickrama and Priyamal Perera kept Sri Lanka in the game with half-centuries, but the dismissal of Samarawickrama in the 24th over sparked a collapse. None of the final six batsmen got into double figures as Sri Lanka went from 103 for 3 to 158 all out. The wickets were shared around, with four bowlers taking two each as Pakistan cruised into the semi-finals.
A 76-run stand between Ben Duckett (61) and Ed Barnard (24) for the fourth wicket helped England stay alive in their chase of 222 against India and eventually surpass it in the final over with three wickets in hand. England will now face Pakistan in the semis. Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 121 runs in their quarterfinal clash.
For India, Kuldeep Yadav (3 for 46) was the pick of the bowlers once again, picking up the crucial scalp of Ben Duckett at a crucial juncture. Another strong 51-run stand for the seventh wicket between Joe Clarke and Rob Jones did not allow India to take complete control. In the end, with four to get from the final over, Rob Sayer hit one over the top on the off-side to register their victory.
BRIEF SCORE: Pakistan Under-19s 279 for 9 (Aslam 95, Imam-ul-Haq 82, Ghulam 52, Binura 4-56) beat Sri Lanka Under-19s 158 (Priyamal 68, Samarawickrama 51) by 121 runs.