Sports: Cricket: Afridi bowls Pak U-19 to big triumph in U-19 World Cup

Whangareiew Zealand: Shaheen Afridi’s display of traditional fast-bowling – pace, aggression and unbridled passion – saw him claim a six-wicket haul that also had Ireland bundled out for 97 here at the Cobham Oval on Tuesday.

Afridi’s incredible return of 6 for 15 in just 8.5 overs, including three maidens, was the best ever returns for Pakistan in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.

It helped them coast to a nine-wicket victory, and stay in contention for a spot in the knockouts, after Zaid Alam (43 not out off 19) and Hassan Khan (27 not out off 21), the captain, added a quick 53 to finish things off to bring up the 98-run target in just 8.5 overs.

When Ireland was put in overcast conditions, their captain, Harry Tector, was hopeful that Jamie Grassi and Mark Donegan could provide a solid foundation, like they had against Sri Lanka in their previous encounter. However, they just couldn’t hold their own against Pakistan’s spirited display with the ball.

The openers put on 20 runs before the stand was broken by Arshad Iqbal, with Donegan holing out for a 16-ball 11. It was a steady slide thereafter. Afridi had Mark Topping (2) poking outside off for his first wicket, and then followed that up with the scalp of Tector (3), who after being peppered with short balls eventually top-edged to the keeper.

The short-ball barrage then led to the dismissal of Grassi as well, and with their in-form batsman dismissed, Ireland was in dire straits at 34/4. Sam Murphy and Neil Rock then combined for a 30-run stand that raised Irish hopes of a comeback. They did well to stand up to the short stuff, and Rock in particular carried on bravely after taking one on the face, just below his helmet grille.

They inched the total past the 50-run mark, but Pakistan wasn’t to be denied for long. Hassan introduced himself and had Rock dismissed with just his second ball – the attempted the sweep went straight to the fielder at short square leg.

Afridi then returned and mixed up his short-deliveries with yorkers to dismantle the rest of the Ireland lower order, along with Hassan. Graham Kennedy was bowled for a duck by Afridi, while Hassan found the gap between Murphy’s bat and pad, ending his valiant 40-ball stay in the middle. Hassan then had Reece Kelly dismissed for nought for his third wicket before Afridi had both Aaron Cawley and Max Neville bowled to finish off the innings.

All the while, Joshua Little looked to muscle Ireland past the 100-mark with a couple of meaty fours. He ended unbeaten on a 20-ball 24, but Ireland needed a lot more of that on the day.

With the bat, Pakistan wasted little time. There were 13 runs off the first over, six of those coming in extras. Alam then went about picking the gaps as Pakistan looked to finish things off early. Rohail Nazir was dismissed for a 14-ball 18, but Hassan then joined Alam and the two finished things off in a hurry.

Hassan and Alam added an unbroken 53, picking boundaries for fun. The two needed just 4.4 overs to bring up the winning runs, and Alam brought up the winning runs in style with a pull for six over square leg.

Earlier in their first match, Pakistan has tasted a defeat from minnows Afghanistan, who recorded a five-wicket triumph against former champions.