CHRISTCHURCH – South Africa will fight it out with Pakistan at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Wednesday with the winner earning a place in the semifinals of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
Both teams qualified for the quarterfinals with two victories and a defeat but Pakistan emerged as winners of Group D, edging out Afghanistan on net run rate, while South Africa had to settle for second place in Group A after being beaten by New Zealand.
Pakistan made an inauspicious start to the tournament, losing their opening fixture to neighbours Afghanistan by five wickets to leave their hopes of qualifying for the Super League quarterfinals hanging by a thread.
They came roaring back against Ireland though, dismissing their opponents for 97 and then chasing down their target in just 8.5 overs to give their net run rate a boost. Pakistan then sealed top spot in Group D with a three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in a thrilling contest.
By contrast, South Africa came flying out of the blocks but ended their group fixtures with a whimper. The Proteas racked up 341/7 in a thumping victory over Kenya before an impressive 76-run win over reigning champions West Indies.
However, with the top spot in Group A up for grabs, they were comfortably beaten by the Black Caps, falling to a 71-run defeat.
One of the key players for South Africa is Hermann Rolfes. The 18-year-old is a key figure for them, generally taking the new ball and batting at No 4.
His all-round talent has been on display for all to see so far in the tournament, with Rolfes taking 4/33 in the win over West Indies and then hitting 108 from 124 balls in a losing cause against the Kiwis.
This is South Africa’s 11th ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup appearance. After four near-misses – they came third at the 1998 and 2012 events, and were runners-up in 2002 and 2008 – they finally registered their maiden triumph in 2014, with a team featuring current Test players Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo and Kagiso Rabada.
That was followed by their joint-worst performance, as they failed to make the quarter-finals in 2016, finishing 11th in the final analysis.
Pakistan and South Africa have had some enthralling tussles at Under-19 level over the years. They have met in 16 Youth ODIs, with Pakistan claiming nine victories to South Africa's seven.
However, the Pakistanis are still looking for their first win over South Africa in an ICC Under-19 CWC, with the Proteas prevailing in their two previous meetings in 2008 and 2014.
Pakistan: Hasan Khan (c), Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Ali Khan, Ammad Alam, Zaid Alam, Ali Zaryab, Arshad Iqbal, Muhammad Mohsin Khan, Muhammad Musa, Saad Khan, Rohail Nazir (wk), Munir Riaz, Suleman Shafqat, Imran Shah, Mohammad Taha
South Africa: Raynard van Tonder (c), Matthew Breetzke, Gerald Coetzee, Jade de Klerk, Jean du Plessis, Fraser Jones, Wandile Makwetu, Akhona Mnyaka, Andile Mokgakane, Kgaudisa Molefe, Jason Niemand, Thando Ntini, Jiveshan Pillay, Hermann Rolfes, Kenan Smith.
African News Agency (ANA)