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Australia edge past Pakistan into U-19 World Cup final

Harry Dixon of Australia plays a shot during the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup semifinal against Pakistan at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Thursday.
Harry Dixon of Australia plays a shot during the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup semifinal against Pakistan at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Thursday.
Image: Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images

Chances of an of all-Asian ICC Under-19 World Cup final affair were ended when Australia clinched a one-wicket victory against Pakistan in their semifinal at at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Thursday.

They booked a place in the final where they will meet India on Sunday.

It will be Baggy Green's fifth final in the tournament since 1988 and will be the repeat of senior ODI World Cup closing in 2023.

The 2023 showdown between the two successive nations with most silverware in cricketing history was won by the men from down, something the Aussies' U-19 class of 2024 will look to replicate come Sunday against the three-time champions of the u-19 tournament India.

Chasing a modest target of 180, openers Harry Dixon and Sam Konstas helped Australia to a solid start.

The pair batted at a slower pace than their previous encounters in the global showpiece and added 33 runs for their stand and the first Powerplay before Konstas was castled by impressive 15-year-old Ali Raza for just 14 runs.

Three overs later Hugh Weibgen (4) hit a full toss from Naveed Khan straight into the hands of Haroon Arshad at cover.

Harjas Singh (5) and Ryan Hicks with his golden duck fell in quick succession as wickets tumbled for the men in yellow.

Dixon and Ollie Peake picked up the pieces and rebuilt the Australia innings with positive strokeplay and intent.

Playing the role of aggressor Dixon notched his fifty in the 24th over but two overs later fell victim to left-arm spinner Arafat Minhas for a brilliant 50 off 75 balls.

Tom Campbell and Peake did a follow-up to the previous partnership and helped Australia edge closer to their ask with another forty stand.

In desperate need of quick wickets and something special from their bowling attack, Minhas and Raza provided Pakistan with that exact magic.

Mihnas bowled Campbell for 25 and Raza on the other end removed Peake for 49 to leave the game evenly poised as Australia needed 25 runs with less than eight overs to spare.

Raza's double wicket in 45th over added to the drama, going deep in the death overs, but Australia's last recognised middle-order batsmen Raf MacMillan kept his cool and saw them through in the final over with five balls left as they finished on 181/9.

Raza finished with 4/34 as Pakistan were sent packing after a remarkable tournament that showcased that their domestic and senior international team was in safe hands with the talent coming through their youth systems.

Earlier in the day paceman Tom Straker orchestrated Pakistan's downfall and helped Australia restrict the Asians to 179 all out.

The 18-year-old claimed six wickets for just 24 runs as he topped the charts for the best bowling figures in a semi and final, surpassing South African Kagiso Rabada's figures of 6/25 in the semifinal of the 2014 tournament against Pakistan.

He used short-of-a-length deliveries to great effect removing key Pakistan batters Shamyl Hussain (17) and Azan Awais.

He mixed the deliveries well too and got the Pakistan skipper Saad Baig (3) on a full delivery to outfox the batter.

Straker dismissed Ubaid Shah from another short-length ball that 'got big' on the batter then removed the tailenders Raza (0) and Mohhamed Zeeshan (4) with fuller balls at stumps.

Azan Awais and Arafat Minhas top-scored with 52 each for the men in green as they finished third in the standings.