The much-anticipated fixture of this iteration of the ACC U19 Asia Cup 2023 is upon us. All eyes will be on rivals, Pakistan U19 and India U19, as they clash at the ICC Cricket Academy Ground in Dubai on Sunday.
Pakistan had a perfect start to their U19 Asia Cup campaign with a thumping seven-wicket win over Nepal U19 at the ICC Cricket Academy, thanks to some outstanding performances.
Pakistan U19’s decision to bowl first paid dividends as Zeeshan ran through the Nepal batting line-up. The 18-year-old pacer picked up six wickets at the expense of 19 runs, registering the second-best figures at this level for a Pakistan bowler, surpassed only by Shaheen Shah Afridi, who recorded 6-15 against Ireland U19 in 2018.
Chasing 153, Pakistan found themselves two down for 23 but a sparkling partnership worth 108 off 107 balls between skipper Saad Baig and Azan Awais rebuilt the innings. Zeeshan, who had starred with the ball, also hit a fiery 20 in just eight balls, smashing two fours and as many sixes.
Pakistan managed a net run rate of +2.770 by rolling out the opposition in 47.2 overs and chasing the set target in just 26.2 overs.
The last meeting between Pakistan U19 and India U19 saw the Qasim Akram-led side win a thriller by two wickets at the ICC Academy Ground No 2 in 2021. Mohammad Shahzad was the player of the match in that contest for his contribution of 81 in the chase of the 238-run target.
Pakistan U19 head coach Mohammad Yousaf, speaking to PCB Digital on the eve of the match, said: “All players performed really well, especially the bowlers who bowled responsibly. Captain Saad Baig and Azan Awais both adapted well to the conditions and scored solid fifties. The partnership between these two players saw us achieve the target easily.
“We promoted Mohammad Zeeshan up the order as a pinch hitter and he proved himself. It was good that we scaled the target in 26.2 overs, boosting our net run rate early in the tournament. The boys are very keen, focused, and disciplined. Tomorrow’s match is like a routine game for us; we will try to win as we do in all other games and are fully prepared to perform.”
“Zeeshan is an extraordinary talent. He has a strong body and height, which greatly aids him. He bowled with the right line and length yesterday and proved himself as not only a good bowler but also a competent batter, demonstrating his skills as a pinch hitter. This will benefit our team.”