Seniors hope U-19 squad carries winning momentum into World Cup

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Several members of the national cricket team offered their best wishes and motivated the U19 side ahead of their departure for South Africa, where the U19 Cricket World Cup will be staged from January 7.

The senior players, according to a press release by the Pakistan Cricket Board, hoped that the U-19 side would carry last year’s winning momentum into the World Cup, and advised the players to make the most of the platform as it would lead to their eventual recruitment into the national team.

“I wish all the best to the U19 team. My message for them is to do well, like they have been doing recently. Help each other and believe in your teammates’ abilities,” said T20I captain Babar Azam, who was part of the U19 World Cup in 2010 and 2012.

“Our batsmen and bowlers are in good shape and after having played in South Africa, I would suggest the batsmen to stay upright while batting. Enjoy this opportunity and put your heart in it as that would enhance your performances.”

Test captain Azhar Ali, who was a part of the U19 team in 2002 World Cup, told the current crop to focus on unity and aggressive play.

“I wish all the best to this team and advise them to stick together as a unit and play fearless cricket,” he said.

“Playing the U19 World Cup gives you a flavour of international cricket as the matches are televised and the players get to experience the pressure of international cricket.

“It is a great opportunity for these cricketers to learn, which will certainly help them when they graduate to the senior team.”

Azhar praised U-19 captain Rohail Nazir and Haider Ali, saying that “they have done well at the U19 level and impressed at the first-class level too. When a player performs at the first-class level, it lifts his morale up. If these two are able to stretch their form into the World Cup, the team will benefit immensely.

Recent graduate of the side, Naseem Shah, also expressed his confidence in the former team.

“I was recently playing with this side and I am hopeful that they are going to do well in the tournament. They have gelled very well and possess good combinations, which will help them excel in the World Cup.”

“I wish good luck to Rohail Nazir and his team,” he added.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, who played in the previous edition of the U19 Cricket World Cup, reminded the youngsters of the importance the junior platform.

“The way this team played in South Africa and won, I am hopeful that the U-19 team will win the World Cup.

“U-19 cricket grooms a cricketer. It happened with me as after the last World Cup, in which I was the highest wicket-taker [for Pakistan], I was picked up for the PSL and subsequently called-up for the senior side.

“This is a very good side and I wish them all the best. I have played with Rohail Nazir and Aarish Ali and I know they are very good players.”

“Pakistan have a very good record at the U19 level and I am sure this team will do very well in the tournament,” said Fakhar Zaman, who played U-19 domestic cricket.

“U-19 level is very important for a player and such international tours help a great deal in the development of the players as they provide crucial opportunities to rub shoulders with the best cricketers.

“I have played domestic cricket with these players and they all are very talented and have proved themselves.”

Mohammad Hasnain, another former Pakistan U-19 player, said: “I wish all the best to the team and hope that they will do well. U-19 cricket is a very important phase in the development as it teaches you the basics which help in graduating to the next level.

“My message to the team is to work hard and eye a spot in the national side.”

The Rohail-led side begin their ICC U19 World Cup 2020 campaign on 19 January against Scotland.

They will play Zimbabwe U19 and Bangladesh U19 on 22 and 24 January respectively in the group-stage.