India v Pakistan, ICC U-19 World Cup, quarter-final, Townsville August 20, 2012

Narrow loss very disappointing - Azam


Pakistan came within one wicket of compensating for a calamitous batting performance in the Under-19 World Cup quarter-final against India. They will now begin the contest for fifth place by playing West Indies on August 22.

Having travelled north from Brisbane to Townsville, Pakistan were playing at the Tony Ireland Stadium for the first time. It had rained in the early hours of Monday and the skies were overcast. Yet, unlike most sides when playing strong bowling attacks at this venue, Pakistan chose to bat after winning the toss.

The first hour has often yielded several wickets. England were 61 for 4 against Australia, and India were 50 for 4 against West Indies. Pakistan were 0 for 2 in the first over today.

"We've been batting well [in the World Cup], so we'd thought we'd bat first, make 250," Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, said when asked why he did not choose to bowl. "But that did not happen, early on the boys played some bad shots and we got out for a low score - we made 136."

The first two wickets weren't to bad balls or bad shots though. Sandeep Sharma's swing from leg to off stump made the left-handers Sami Aslam and Iman-ul-Haq play and edge to second slip. The duty of stablising the innings was left to Azam.

"When two wickets fell, I just decided to play carefully and try and take the team towards 250," he said. "But I couldn't do it, when I got to 50 I played a loose shot and got out."

Having seen off the more potent threats from India's seamers, Azam had just brought up his half-century when he chipped an offbreak from Baba Aparajith straight to Unmukt Chand at midwicket, the softest of shots.

"We thought if we made 150-160 we could beat India, we had that much confidence in our bowling," Azam said. "Our score was too low, but we still managed to take it until the final overs."

Defending 137, Azam's confidence in his bowlers was not misplaced. The first wicket to fall - Chand for a duck - was via a spectacular catch on the backward point boundary and every fielder and substitute ran towards Ehsan Adil to congratulate him. Two edges were caught in quick succession. After five overs Pakistan had India at 8 for 3.

"In the first five overs we dismissed three batsmen. I thought we could make a comeback," Azam said. "There was a partnership and at the time we thought the game was slipping. But again the boys came back and we tried really hard."

India recovered through a partnership between Aparajith and Vijay Zol, but just when an Indian win seemed an inevitability, Pakistan claimed 4 for 7 to reduce India to 127 for 9. The next seven overs were fraught with tension as India's last pair successfully toiled towards the target. "When the boys came back, and nine batsmen were out, we thought we could win the match," Azam said. "The bowlers gave 100% but it didn't happen. Sandeep Sharma and Harmeet Singh played really well.

"We're very disappointed. We had confidence against India, having played them in the Asia Cup - one match was tied and the other we won. When seven runs were remaining, we thought we could get the last wicket and win. When two runs were remaining, everyone was a bit down. A lot of us were very tense out there."

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Munaf on August 23, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    I agree with a comment here : This is learning process for U-19 Pakistani colts. They now now how it felt in 1992 1996 2003 1999 2011 and T20Wc2007. Will make them stronger for future defeats in future Worldcups

  • Manesh on August 23, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    @mogan707. Go and hide. Indian boys reached the final. You must be ashamed of yourself for those comments!

  • Krishna on August 22, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    @morgan707: Only time will answer you.However great game of cricket.Is this the preview of India Pakistan Series(Senior teams)????? My point of view this Pak U19 team is better than their senior team lots of talent.

  • Mohan on August 21, 2012, 14:33 GMT

    India Under-19 team has a full bunch of selfish persons.They are playing for themselves.India did not deserve a win.They are going to lose eventually to new zealand.

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    Great game. Pakistan showed that they have bowlers who can defend below par totals. However, 136 was a bit too less. If Pakistan would've batted out the 50 overs, it was game on. Well done India, in the last World Cup they lost in the quarters to Pakistan in a similar, tense game.

  • mayank on August 21, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    That was an awesome match and congrats to both teams for playing so well! May both these sides dominate the world cricket in upcoming years. Cheer!

  • indian cric on August 21, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    From a Indian cricket fan, well played Pakistan! An amazing match. Pity there had to be a loser. Considering these guys are just 19 or below they played amazing cricket. Pakistan bowling as always is a joy to watch. Indian batsmen made a mess of the small target but the conditions were not favorable especially for sub continent teams. Credit for holding their nerve at the key moment. This quality will be a huge asset when they mature and represent their national side. I remember the same 2 teams had an amazing contest in the Asia cup as well and deservedly were joint winners of the Asia Cup. Future is bright for both India and Pakistan. And many more mouth watering contests between the arch rivals.

  • Dummy4 on August 21, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    Well played India and Pakistan boys. I would say both teams were great wonderful show. Pak should not feel a bit as this is learning process that why it is under 19 cricket you are still very young you have all future to prove. The way it looked like a miracle happened when India lost 4 wickets 7 or 8 runs and it appeared Pak will win but they did not have any seem bowler left. Next time when playing India then Pakistan should have all rounder bowlers one who could spin also and also fast bowling and they should also be good batsman. A fast bowler can always be spinner also. Most of the time India does not play well against fast bowlers so at least Pakistan should have 4 fast bowlers and one spinner only. All Pakistani fans and Pakistan followers around the world should not feel bad and keep their heads up. Both teams won the heart of the public. I am proud of both India and Pakistan to always give us a great show. it really does not matter who won and lost as long as game was fun.

  • Ejaz on August 21, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    I don't like the the format of this tournament. It is not WC it is a knockout tournament for 8 big teams with league matches as warm up matches.

  • Ejaz on August 21, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    Although we lost but I am very happy that Fast bowling is not dying in our country. We are seeing some of the future stars. Future of both the countries look very promising. 136 was not a pressure score but hats off to Babar and his team they bowled superbly. And congratulations to India, May you win the WC.

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