Playing peerless cricket, even their warm-ups superior to any other team in the event, Afghanistan won their second consecutive U-19 Elite event, defeating UAE in the Final at the Kinrara Oval by 10 wickets. Afghanistan move forward to the ICC U19 World Cup in February 2014, where they will join the ten Test-playing countries, four other ICC regional qualifiers and UAE who are the hosts. “We came here to win, it was our responsibility to win this for Afghanistan,” said Afghanistan’s captain Nasir Jamal.

Afghanistan’s Hashmatulllah Shahidi

Afghanistan were unbeaten throughout, winning all their games by large margins. Hashmatullah Shahidi dominated with the bat, making 363 runs in four innings for once out, and fittingly hitting the winning runs. He is one for the senior side, as are Bowler of the Tournament Nepal’s Avinash Karn (already a senior player), Malaysia’s Pavandeep Singh (Most Promising) and Player of the Tournament UAE’s Dan D’Souza. “U-19 cricket is the best time and place to learn whether you not only have the talent to play top-level international cricket but also that you have the ability to adapt to fresh challenges,” says ACC Development Officer Aminul Islam who was also Referee in several of the event’s matches.

Qatar, still a way to go

ACC Development Officer Venkatapathi Raju, along with Aminul, a player in the inaugural Youth World Cup of 1988, (as well as Mushtaq Ahmed, Jimmy Adams, Basit Ali, Mike Atherton, Chris Cairns, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Nasser Hussain, Ridley Jacobs, Sanath Jayasuriya and Brian Lara), is of the opinion that “U-19 cricket is the most critical period of a player’s development. It’s a bridge which the best players manage to cross, size, experience: a lot of its equal by then. At this level it is players, systems and coaches that make for success.”

Malaysia’s Pavandeep Singh

Malaysia, with a very young team, impressed by finishing third, and Saudi Arabia (eventually sixth), after a fresh U-19 cricket program were contenders for a place in the ACC U-19 Elite semi-finals for a while. Nepal, after dominating their group, will be disappointed after losing their last two matches.

Four times ACC U-19 Elite finalists Afghanistan are getting things right more than the others. Tougher challenges remain. Their record, once they get to the U19 World Cup isn’t what they’d like. “Maybe before we didn’t have the best preparation for Canada (in 2010) but we were top 10 in Australia in 2012 (having beaten Bangladesh U-19s in Malaysia in the 2012 ACC U-19 Asia Cup) and I think we can give a good fight to the other teams in UAE next year,” says their long-serving U-19 manager Shir Agha Hamkar.

2013 ACC U-19 Elite Cup

Filed May 15th, 2013