‘Unbelievable’ Tom Straker breaks Kagiso Rabada’s Under-19 World Cup record

Fast bowler Tom Straker produced a match-winning spell of 6 for 24 to blow Pakistan away in the second semi-final Benoni, as Australia won a close contest to set up a final with India in the 2024 Under-19 World Cup.
Straker, who sat out of the previous game* and replaced Charlie Anderson for the semi-final, picked up two wickets in his first spell and then returned to clean up the tail and flatten Pakistan for 179. Straker’s figures are also the best for a bowler in a semi-final or final of the Under-19 World Cup, as he bettered Kagiso Rabada’s 6 for 25 against Australia in the 2014 semi-final.
“Charlie Anderson is obviously a quality fast bowler and really tough to leave,” Australia captain Hugh Weibgen said. “On the other side, Tom Straker bowled unbelievably today and yeah, I thought he was brilliant.”

Having started strongly, Australia looked on track to chase the total down comfortably. But the Pakistan bowlers had other plans. Ali Raza removed Sam Konstas to end the 33-run opening stand, and soon Australia were 59 for 4. Harry Dixon and Oliver Peake took the side past 100 before Arafat Minhas caused another collapse, removing Dixon and Tom Campbell. The chase then got tense when Raza added three more scalps to his tally. At that point, Australia needed 16 from 24 balls with one wicket left.

“We fought so hard,” Weibgen said. “Every time we thought we were nearly there on top, we lost a wicket, but we just kept fighting. Those partnerships, a few contributions through the middle there. Seventeen-year-old Oli Peake – unbelievable – showed such maturity for such a young bloke. Everyone contributed really well.

“[I was] never in doubt. Had full faith in Vids [Vidler] and Raf to get the job done. A lot of emotions, to be honest. I was quite nervous. I still don’t know really what happened, but it was awesome.”

Pakistan captain Saad Baig acknowledged his bowlers’ efforts in the tournament and called the loss a “part of the game”. Fast bowler Ubaid Shah is the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament before the final, with 18 wickets in six games.

“I think we were short of 10-20 runs, but we put our 100% effort,” Baig said. “We played well, we fought well but Australia played very well. Our boys throughout the tournament were brilliant [and] our bowling was quite well in the tournament.”

* 0900 GMT, Feb 9, 2024 The earlier version said Straker missed three games leading up to the semi-final. The error has been corrected.

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