Pakistan, New Zealand need to be wary of minnows


Complacency will be Pakistan’s and New Zealand’s biggest enemy when they lock horns in Group B of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012, a group that also includes a dangerous Afghanistan and Scotland, which is returning after missing the previous two events. The ninth edition of the ICC U19 CWC will be staged from 11 to 26 August in Queensland with Group B matches to be played on the Sunshine Coast. The top two sides will progress to the Super League quarter-final stage while the bottom two sides will compete in the Plate Championship. Pakistan is the only side that has won back-to-back titles when it won in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2004 and 2006, respectively. In addition to this, it twice reached the finals, in 1988 and 2010, while it lost in the semi-finals of the 2000 and 2008 tournaments.
The current form of Pakistan has been excellent. At Kuala Lumpur in June, Pakistan shared the U19 Asia Cup trophy with India while it beat Australia 2-1 in a series that finished last week on the Gold Coast.
New Zealand has only once appeared in the final of an ICC U19 CWC when, in 1998, it lost to England in Johannesburg. New Zealand lost to India in the 2008 semi-final, finished third in 2002 and twice finished fourth, in the 2000 and 2004 events. In contrast, Afghanistan and Scotland are relatively inexperienced sides but the strong cricket culture in their respective countries, backed up by some strong performances by their senior sides, make them teams that deserve respect and cannot be taken as push-overs.
Afghanistan will be appearing in its second ICC U19 CWC, after having finished last in the 16-team contest two years ago, with Afsar Khan, Hashmatullah Shaidi, Noor-ul-Haq and Yamin Ahmadzi returning for their second World Cup.
Scotland is returning to the event after having missed the events in Malaysia and New Zealand in 2008 and 2010, respectively. It also didn’t figure in the tournament that Sri Lanka staged in 2000. However, for the ICC U19 CWC 2012, Scotland qualified in style when it topped the points table of the 10-team ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2011 that was staged in Derby, Ireland. In that event, Scotland won eight of the nine matches.
The Pakistan side will be led by Babar Azam who, along with Usman Qadir, also played in the ICC U19 CWC 2010. Babar is the only player in the side with first-class experience.

England beat Pakistan in a high-scoring warm-up match

A big hundred by Ben Foakes, a near ton by Daniel Bell-Drummond and some moments of brilliance from the Overton twins Jamie and Craig, delivered an encouraging five wickets victory for England against Pakistan in a warm-up match of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012 in Brisbane. England won a high-scoring game at Redlands, thanks to 133 off 119 balls from Foakes. The Essex wicket-keeper belted 14 fours and five sixes as he helped his side chase down Pakistan’s 281 for six with 36 balls to spare. Craig Overton was 30 not out after his twin Jamie had taken three wickets and pulled off a key run-out in the Pakistan innings which revolved around a classy century from Saeed Ali.Saeed hit a neat 100 from 93 balls, including eight fours and a six, before Overton’s run-out in the 45th over stymied Pakistan’s charge. A solid 79 from No.3 Imam Ul-Haq, nephew of former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, got the Pakistan innings off to a promising start. Apart from running out Saeed, Jamie Overton picked up 3-22 from seven overs.
Scores in brief: England beat Pakistan by five wickets at Fred Kratzman Oval, Redlands, Pakistan 281 for six (Saeed Ali 100, Inam Ul-Haq 79; Jamie Overton 3-22), England 283 for five (Ben Foakes 133, Daniel Bell-Drummond 91; Usman Qadir 2-48)