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P
PPI
February 4, 2020

Pakistan colts gear up to take on India in U19 World Cup semis

Sports

P
PPI
February 4, 2020

KARACHI: Arch-rivals Pakistan and India will lock horns in the first semi-final of the Under-19 Cricket World Cup at the JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom, South Africa, on Tuesday (today).

The high-octane clash is set to capture the attention of hundreds of millions in the Indian sub-continent.

The defending champions India have won the title four times. Pakistan won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2006. Pakistan’s historic 2006 triumph was registered with one of the most astonishing results in the history of the tournament when Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side convincingly defended their paltry 109-run total by rolling over India for 71 runs at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium.

The two teams have frequently clashed in the Under-19 World Cup. Pakistan won five out of the nine matches between the two sides. Pakistan have so far shown great depth in both bowling and batting departments. They shot out Scotland for 75 runs in their opening Group C match and restricted Bangladesh to 106 for nine in the rain-affected match.

The bowlers also made light work of Afghanistan by bowling them out for 189 in the quarter-final clash. The batting line-up’s depth was visible in the game against Zimbabwe when Pakistan recovered from 73 for three to post 294.

The batsmen also held their own against the fancied Afghan spinners to overhaul the 190-run target for the loss of four wickets with 53 balls to spare. Pace bowling all-rounder Abbas Afridi, with nine wickets in four games, is Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker. His fellow pacers Tahir Hussain and Amir Khan have taken seven wickets each.

Mohammad Haris, who was the man-of-the-match against Zimbabwe with a sparkling 48-ball 81, saw off the chase against Afghanistan with an unbeaten 29 off 43 balls. His tournament tally is 110 runs.

Qasim Akram, who scored 54 against Zimbabwe, contributed a useful 25 not out against Afghanistan in an unbroken 63-run fourth wicket stand with Haris that sealed Pakistan’s win.

Pakistan will look to opener and vice-captain Haider Ali to provide a flying start to the team as he did against Afghanistan (28 off 34 balls, five fours).

Haider has not yet lived up to the potential he showed at the domestic level with a century in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2019-20 final. He scored four and 19 against Scotland and Zimbabwe, respectively, besides his quickfire knock against Afghanistan.

The right-handed stroke player caught the attention of cricket pundits during his stroke-filled 28 on Friday. He says the team is ready for the big clash. “I am happy with my batting form. I was playing well against Afghanistan before I got run out. But I feel confident that I will deliver against India,” Haider said. “This is just another game for us and I don’t feel any additional pressure. I feel I can do well in the match.

“My confidence is high after the Afghanistan innings. I know my importance to the team and I will aim to carry on the batting form and provide the team a good start against India. “I scored 45 against India in the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup match recently. I feel confident heading into the game and will give my 100 per cent.”