Pakistan face off Afghanistan in U-19 Cricket World Cup opener tomorrow
WHANGAREI – The best of the next generation will be on view over the next 22 days as the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup kicks off with four matches on Saturday, including those featuring defending champions the Windies and two-time champions Pakistan.
Pakistan take on dark horses Afghanistan in Whangarei while the Windies face New Zealand in a day-night fixture in Tauranga. In other matches on the opening day to be played in Christchurch, Bangladesh take on Namibia and Papua New Guinea play Zimbabwe.
ICC TV will broadcast live the match between New Zealand and the Windies. This will be the first of 20 matches to be broadcast live during the tournament and will be available across the world, details of which are available here.
The buzz around the event has grown over the past few weeks and the teams have warmed up for the 16-side event with some rigorous practice sessions and warm-up matches in Christchurch.
A tournament whose alumni includes the likes of international skippers Steve Smith (Australia), Joe Root (England), Virat Kohli (India), Kane Williamson (New Zealand) and Sarfraz Ahmed (Pakistan), brings together the best from around the world with teams evenly matched.
Pakistan coach Mansoor Rana: “Pakistan has always done well and we are well prepared this time again and I hope the boys will go till the very end. We’re very confident, we are here for some time now. The boys are used to the conditions and the pitches, our nets were almost 100 per cent similar to what the conditions are here.
In the space of two weeks in November 2017 in the Under 19 Asia Cup, Afghanistan beat Pakistan twice, but were also beaten by Sri Lanka, who in turn succumbed to Pakistan. All three will again face off in Group D of the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup and with Ireland – never to be discounted – completing the four, their pool is set to be one of the most competitive in the tournament. This early clash, taking place at Cobham Oval in Whangerei and kicking off at 10.30am on Saturday 13 January, could prove pivotal in the final analysis.
Pakistan are the third-most successful team in ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup history, having taken home the title twice, in 2004 and 2006, behind only India and Australia. They have made the final on a further three occasions, including at the first-ever tournament in 1988, with a team including future legends Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed.
Afghanistan’s stark rise, from being also-rans to one of the favourites, is illustrated by the fact that all their ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup appearances have come this decade. Their best performance until now came in 2014, when they shocked Australia in the group stages to qualify for the quarter-finals, eventually finishing seventh
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
Afghanistan: Naveen-ul-Haq (c), Qais Ahmad, Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Ali Khil (wk), Rahmanullah, Mohammad Ibrahim, Zahir Khan, Darwish Rasooli, Baheer Shah, Tariq Stanikzai, Nisar Wahdat, Wafadar, Waqarullah Ishaq, Mujeeb Zadran, Yousuf Zazai. –ICC