Just a day into the ICC under-19 World Cup, the UAE will gear up for one of the biggest rivalries in sport. India will take on Pakistan under-19s in the Group A opener, at the Dubai International Cricket stadium on Saturday.
India-Pakistan clashes always seem to fill up stadiums, even at the youth level. The last time these two teams met, in the UAE, barely a month ago, a packed house watched as India clinched victory. Saturday promises to be more of the same.
The matches between the neighbours, in this showpiece youth event, have never really been devoid of drama. Pakistan snatched the World Cup in 2006, after being bowled out for 109. Their bowlers, on a sticky Colombo night produced a superlative performance to shoot India down for just 71.
A semi-final victory for Pakistan again in 2010, another of the last-gasp variety, was followed by Unmukt Chand’s bunch holding their nerve in another low-scoring encounter, this time the quarter-final of the 2012 World Cup, which India eventually won.
A number of players from both sides, have also gone on to play for their respective national teams. Seven players from the 2006 final have played for their countries while, Virat Kohli and Umar Akmal who played the 2008 World Cup have also become regulars for their countries.
On Saturday, India will perhaps go into the match with a slight advantage. Last time these two teams met, India’s skipper Vijay Zol and rising star, Sanju Samson, struck fluent tons, helping their side to a victory.
This time around, the Indian batting has not had the best of starts. India lost both its warm-up games, against Sri Lanka and South Africa.
“Sometimes these losses are necessary. It just allows you to examine what can be done better with the side. It was good that those defeats gave us some markers on where to improve. The batsmen need to take more responsibility if we are to do well in this tournament,” he said.
Pakistan on the other hand, won both their practice games quite comprehensively, accounting for UAE and Australia.
The tournament, being hosted by the UAE for the first time, means conditions will be batsman friendly and teams with strong and deep batting line-ups are expected to prosper.
Both teams, India and Pakistan, boast of strong and in-form batsmen. Pakistan’s skipper, Sami Aslam, is in a rich vein of form. Aslam along with middle-order marauder Kamran Ghulam had given India a scare in the ACC Asia Cup final last month. In wily Zia ul-Haq’s left-arm pace, Zafar Gohar’s incisive left-arm orthodox and Karamat Ali’s leg-spin, Pakistan have a strong bowling unit on tracks which are expected to aid spin as the game progresses.
Both teams have relatively fresh squads with Pakistan having only three members of their previous World Cup campaign in the team. India have only Zol and Akhil Herwadkar from the previous edition.
Zol, though was confident about his unit’s ability to deal with the pressure. “We have won four tournaments on the trot. I don’t think there is any extra pressure. There are huge expectations but we know what our jobs are. I am confident that everyone will be ready from the beginning,” he said.
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SA, England win
Dubai: A 151-run fourth wicket partnership between Ed Barnard and Ben Duckett provided 1998 champions England a solid start in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup as they defeated the hosts United Arab Emirates by 213 runs in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
In the other matches of the day, the West Indies let South Africa off the hook as the two-time runner-up recovered to win by 94 runs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Sri Lanka recorded a comfortable 49 runs victory over New Zealand at Sharjah Cricket Stadium and Zimbabwe completed a six-wickets victory over Canada at Abu Dhabi Oval 1.
Barnard scored 93 and Duckett contributed 83 as England scored 315 for eight in 50 overs after being asked to bat first at the Zayed Cricket Stadium. UAE were never in contention and were eventually bowled out for 102 in 33 overs with only captain Rohit Singh (38) and wicketkeeper-opener Shivank Vijayakumar (26) advancing to the double figures.
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