NORTH SOUND (Antigua): Two-time former champions Pakistan clash with Australia in the ICC U-19 World Cup Super Series quarter-final here at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Friday.

Led by Qasim Akram, Pakistan have remained unbeaten in the tournament winning their three Group C matches against Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea to confirm their quarter-final clash with Australia.

After finishing their group matches in Trinidad on a high with a thumping nine-wicket win over Papua New Guinea, Pakistan have trained hard in the lead-up to the match against the Aussies.

Pakistan, meanwhile are the third most successful side after India and Australia in the U-19 World Cup, which was launched in 1988 before becoming a biennial event in 1998.

Pakistan have won titles in 2004 and 2006, finished runners-up thrice in 1988, 2010 and 2014, and achieved third positions in 2000, 2008, 2018 and 2020, the boys in green, featuring in the 2022 edition, would thus enter the quarter-final with an aim of securing a semi-final spot in the tournament for a 10th time.

Pakistan team’s head coach Ijaz Ahmed is happy with the team’s preparations for the big clash and feels that the team is heading in the right direction in terms of both the tournament and their long-term development.

“We have gained good momentum here starting with our warm-up victories against Bangladesh and Canada. The players entered the tournament with great confidence and focus, the performance in our Group C matches is a real testament of the players’ preparation and eagerness to perform at the big stage,” Ijaz said.

“Since this event is also about learning and overcoming weaknesses, we have been working extra hard with the players to identify their shortcomings while guiding them through their game related challenges. We have emphasised how the batters need to take responsibility and convert their starts into big scores.

“Most of the players in the side have been with us for two years, they have come through the U16 stage and we have been able to build a quality combination based on our extensive preparations despite the Covid-19 related challenges,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2022

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