Image Courtesy: ICC
Two-time champions Pakistan claimed third position at the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2018 after their third-fourth place play-off against Afghanistan was washed-out without a ball being bowled at the John Davies Oval in Queenstown on Thursday.
Afghanistan and Pakistan were in Group D and though Afghanistan defeated Pakistan in their opener, Pakistan topped the group after Afghanistan suffered a surprise defeat against Ireland in their last group match.
While this is Afghanistan's best finish in an ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup after they claimed 16th, 10th, seventh and ninth positions in the 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 events, respectively, this is the third time Pakistan have finished third after 2000 and 2010.
Pakistan's worst performance in the prestigious tournament came in 2012 when they finished eighth.
Pakistan, the only country to have won back-to-back titles, in 2004 and 2006, got past South Africa by three wickets in the quarter-finals but suffered a 203-run defeat to India in the semi-finals with the team bundled out for only 69 runs.
Afghanistan lost to three-time champions Australia by six wickets in the semi-finals after a huge 202 runs victory over New Zealand in their last-eight fixture.
Ecstatic with his side's third-place finish, Pakistan coach Mansoor Rana said, "We're happy but we would have liked to be in the final. Both teams wanted to play today and it would have been better if we had played and got these positions," said Rana.
He praised the fast bowling attack of Shaheen Afridi, Muhammad Musa and Arshad Iqbal.
"I thought we saw talented players in all teams. Pakistan has some really good fast bowlers and also some good batsmen. I think they should be given more time in domestic cricket. There are expectations from them but they should play first-class and A cricket (before graduating to senior international cricket).
"Our best moment in the tournament was the quarter-final against South Africa, which was a high-pressure match. I thought that was great experience and the kind of experience players get here, no other tournament can provide. Our team enjoyed being in the semi-finals despite the result.
Afghanistan coach Andy Moles, meanwhile, was satisfied with his team's effort and saw a bright future for several from the team.
"We're pleased to finish fourth but would have loved to play Pakistan today. It would have been a chance to test our players against them. We did not play well against Australia unfortunately but we've learnt a lot. The theme of the tournament being young stars, we showcased quite a few. Today we missed out on a chance with the local rivalry in the region. Also, in under 19 cricket you don't know when you get a chance to play," Moles said.
Moles, however, added that he was expecting a better performance from the slow bowling attack consisting of off-spinner Mujeeb Zadran, leg-spinner Qais Ahmad and chinaman bowler Zahir Khan.
"The spinners did not bowl as consistently as in the U19 Asia Cup in Malaysia (in November, which Afghanistan won). When they bowled well, they bowled very well, but at times, they struggled with the length and bowled short."
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