Will Rhodes (above) and Ryan Higgins hit fighting half-centuries to help England © Getty Images
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dubai: Feb 24, 2014
England scored 204 for 7 after batting first against Pakistan in their ICC under-19 World Cup 2014 semi-final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Skipper Will Rhodes top-scored with an unbeaten 76 and Ryan Higgins contributed 52 in the total. The general trend of the batting team struggling in first innings continued into this game, although it was an afternoon start. England, quite predictably, elected to bat on winning the toss, but one feels captains aren’t quite sure what to do once they win the toss at Dubai. Batting first hasn’t been easy by any means, yet that doesn’t stop the captains from ‘putting them on the board’ in knockouts.
Both sides came into this game with tremendous confidence and there were no reasons to make any changes. England have faced Pakistan quite a bit during the last summer, but weren’t successful. Having said that, their victory against India did lift their spirits and would have fancied their chances facing a similar opponent. That wasn’t to be as the top order stuttered.
The English openers failed to score off the bat. Their partnership lasted 17 balls and the only run came off a wide. The Pakistan seamers bowled in the right areas to restrict Jonathan Tattersall, who is a free-stroking batsman, eventually fell to the plot as he flashed at a ball outside the off-stump and spooned a catch to point. In the next over, Amad Butt had Harry Finch driving and caught at cover. All the early pressure had resulted in these strokes.
But, in came Ben Duckett and one expected the inventive innings from him. He was aggressive and did try to get on with things, hitting three boundaries. A flick over square-leg is one that would have impressed many as it was perfectly placed in between mid-wicket and fine-leg. Ed Barnard hung around for a while with Ryan Higgins, but was then bowled as he tried to drive Kamran Ghulam through the off-side but dragged one back onto his stumps.
At 69 for four in the 22nd over, skipper Will Rhodes joined Higgins. That partnership was quite slow and there were hardly any boundaries. Higgins, who had started brightly, went into a shell and the pair added only 50 in about 16 overs. England were playing a bit dangerously as they left the assault too late. With their main hitter, Duckett, back in the hut, the task of accelerating was always going to be tough.
Higgins was ultimately out for 52 off 99 balls. To make matters worse, Joe Clarke, the hero of the last game, was bowled off the first ball. That only left England with Rhodes, who increased pace towards the end of the innings and reached his fifty.
Pakistan bowlers were impressive and their lot was clinical on the day. Perhaps the only hiccup was when Imam-ul-Haq hurt his shoulder while attempting a run-out, but was back on the field later.
England Under-19 204 for 7 in 50 overs (Ryan Higgins 52, Will Rhodes 76*; Amad Butt 2 for 43 Karamat Ali 2 for 36) vs Pakistan Under-19.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)