Pakistan U19 aim to take step closer to Super League stage

Face Zimbabwe in their second match in ICC U-19 World Cup

Published: 09:54 PM, 21 Jan, 2020
Pakistan U19 team
Caption: Pakistan U19 team group photo
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Pakistan U19 will be targeting to build on their strong and impressive performance in their ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 opener against Scotland when they take on Zimbabwe at the Witrand Oval, Potchefstroom on Wednesday.

Pakistan had given Scotland a cricket lesson on Sunday when they raced to the 76-run target inside 12 overs for the loss of three wickets. A victory against Zimbabwe will strengthen their chances of qualifying for the Super League, which will be played between the two sides from each of the four Groups.

In contrast, Zimbabwe lost to Bangladesh, the fourth side in Pool C, by nine wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) Method in a rain shortened match. Pakistan’s last Pool match against Bangladesh will be played on Friday, the day when their men’s senior will go head to head in the first of the three T20Is at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Pakistan have featured in all the 13 ICC U19 Cricket World Cups to date and have always qualified for the Super League phase. In 11 events to date, they have finished fifth or better, while appearing in five finals, while the only time they ended up outside the top-five was in 1998 and 2012 when they achieved seventh and eighth positions, respectively.

On Sunday, Mohammad Waseem jnr from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the star of Pakistan’s seven-wicket victory. The right-arm pace bowler justified his selection after Naseem Shah was withdrawn due to national duties by returning figures of 7.5-2-12-5.

Waseem was very well supported by left-armer Tahir Hussain, who rocked the top order and finished with figures of 9-2-23-3, including two wickets in the opening over of the match. Tahir’s new-ball partner Abbas Afridi bagged two for 32 as Pakistan fast bowlers shared all the 10 wickets between them.

In run-chase, highly-rated Rohail Nazir and Irfan Khan got some batting practice when they scored 27 and 38 not out, though openers Hadier Ali and Mohammad Shahzad’s failures will be a bit of bother for the Pakistan team management.

Middle-order batsman Mohammad Haris didn’t get a chance to show his mettle on Sunday but looks forward to contributing in the team’s success in future matches. Haris spoke with PCB digital and said: “ICC U19 Cricket World Cup provides a big platform for young players to graduate to the senior level and represent their country. The entire Pakistan squad is focused on delivering the goods in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup.

“Jos Butler is my favourite player and I want to play like him in the middle-order. I was into cricket from a young age. I first started playing when I was nine. My professional cricket journey began at 15 in Peshawar when I started playing club cricket. I feel really lucky that I got full support from my mother. I used to anxiously wait for Sunday as we used to play a match every Sunday, sometimes for the entire day.”

Left-arm spinner Arish Ali Khan was not in the starting line-up on Sunday, but is likely to feature at some stage in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020.

On his early days and cricketing ambition, Arish told PCB digital: “I still remember Mohammad Amir’s devastating new-ball spell against India in the Asia Cup T20 2016 in which he dismissed Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina. That spell inspired me to pursue cricket seriously. Representing Pakistan U16 and that too as captain against Australia was a dream come true moment for me.

“I want to become the best spinner in the world, at present my and the team’s focus is on the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. Our coach Ijaz Ahmed and spin bowling consultant Mushtaq Ahmed have worked hard with us and given us important advice.”

Pakistan ICC U19 Cricket World Cup squad: Rohail Nazir (captain and wicketkeeper), Abbas Afridi (Peshawar), Abdul Wahid Bangalzai (Quetta), Amir Ali (Larkana), Amir Khan (Peshawar), Arish Ali Khan (Karachi), Fahad Munir (Lahore),  Haider Ali (vice-captain), Qasim Akram (Lahore), Mohammad Haris (Peshawar), Mohammad Huraira (Sialkot), Mohammad Irfan Khan (Lahore),  Mohammad Shehzad (Multan), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (North Waziristan), Tahir Hussain (Multan).

Categories : Sports