POTCHEFSTROOM: Pakistan, who won their second and last ICC U-19 World Cup 14 years ago, will launch their Group ‘C’ campaign in the 2020 edition when they take on Scotland in Potchefstroom, South Africa on Sunday.
They will then meet Zimbabwe and Bangladesh on Jan 22 and 24, respectively.
If Pakistan top Group ‘C’, they will take on runners-up from Group ‘D’ in the third Super League quarter-final in Potchefstroom on Jan 30. In the scenario of Pakistan finishing runners-up in Group ‘C’, they will face the winners of Group ‘D’ in the last quarter-final on Jan 31 in Benoni.
The Super League semi-finals will be held on Feb 4 and 6 in Potchefstroom with the final of the 16-nation event set for Feb 9 at the same venue.
Pakistan have returned to familiar territory for the most prestigious age-group competition. When they toured South Africa in June-July last year as part of their event preparations, they thumped the hosts 7-0.
In the two World Cup warm-ups against Nigeria and Sri Lanka in Pretoria, Pakistan recorded impressive victories.
To further supplement their recent record, Pakistan are the third most successful side in the history of the ICC U-19 World Cup after India, who have won the event four times, and Australia, the three-time victors. Pakistan also have the third best success percentage of 71.62, after India (76.31) and Australia (76.05).
Pakistan are being led by wicketkeeper/batsman Rohail Nazir while Haider Ali will be the vice-captain.
Looking ahead to the competition, Rohail said on the eve of the match: “We all are very excited as we have been preparing for this tournament for more than eight months. We are fully prepared to take on Scotland in our opener.
“Of course, there are a few butterflies in the stomach because it is such a massive event and opportunity for all of us, but I am sure we’ll settle down once we will step on to the field. I think this is where [head coach] Ijaz Ahmed becomes so critical for our match preparations because he has seen and felt all this. His pep talks have already calmed down lots of nerves and we are completely focused, motivated and determined to perform strongly.
“We are an extremely fortunate bunch of cricketers who are about to taste international cricket. Apart from learning the rigours and demands of international cricket in an ICC-organised event, the World Cup will provide us the additional opportunity to meet cricketers from other sides and then build on those relationships for future,” Rohail added.
Pakistan squad: Rohail Nazir (captain), Haider Ali (vice-captain), Aamir Ali, Abbas Afridi, Abdul Bangalzai, Arish Ali Khan, Fahad Munir, Irfan Khan, Mohammad Amir Khan, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Wasim, Mohammad Shehzad, Qasim Akram, Tahir Hussain.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2020