By K.R. Nayar

Preview for U19 Asia Cup semifinal

After six days of intense contests by the cream of Asia’s finest Under-19 cricketers, the stage is set for the semifinals of the ninth edition of the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup.

Pakistan and Bangladesh have topped their respective groups. It was an unbeaten run for Pakistan in Group A beating Afghanistan, India and UAE. Bangladesh topped Group B beating Kuwait and Nepal for a higher run rate than Sri Lanka, who finished second. The clash between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to decide the table toppers had to called off on Tuesday following two officials being tested positive.

In the semifinal on Thursday (December 30), Pakistan will take on Sri Lanka at the ICC Academy ground while Bangladesh will meet second placed India who had lost to Pakistan in their group match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The close contests among these four Test playing nations in the group stage clashes could result in an intense battle for a slot in the final to be held on Friday December (31) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. The final will be telecast live by Star Sports Network.

Pakistan had to overcome strong challenges from Afghanistan, India and UAE to top their group. In their first match against Afghanistan though they bowled out Afghanistan for 52 runs, Afghanistan fought back to pick six of their wickets. Their two-wicket win against India was a thriller with the win coming off the last ball of the match. Hosts UAE too gave Pakistan a tough fight before Pakistan won by 21 runs.

Speaking about their prospects in the semifinal, Pakistan skipper Qasim Akram said: “We have reached the semifinal unbeaten and we want to extend this winning run. Our batsmen and bowlers have been contributing when it matters and that is what has resulted in pulling of these victories. We will give our best and keep winning.”

Bangladesh topped their group through their 222 runs win over Kuwait and 154 runs victory over Nepal. Though Sri Lanka beat Kuwait by 274 runs, Nepal produced a spirited performance against them. Sri Lanka won that match by only 60 runs.

Bangladesh skipper Rakibul Hasan revealed his approach to each match. “We always take it match by match and what is important for us is to record victories. This is one reason we won by a huge margin in the matches we played. When our batsmen are among the runs and bowlers are bowling well, we should do well in the semifinal.”

Though India beat the UAE easily by 154 runs, they lost to Pakistan and also had to fight hard to win over Afghanistan by four wickets. Indian skipper Yash Dhull announced that they will play the semifinal in a positive frame of mind. “We have decided to play all matches by remaining positive. It is important not to crack under pressure and play our roles. If all of us can play positively, we can keep winning.”

Sri Lankan skipper Dunith Wellalage believes that his team’s allround show can win them the semifinal match too. “Our batsmen are in tremendous form hitting centuries, and our bowlers led by pacer Mateesha Pathirana have been doing a good job. So as a team we have done well and will try and continue to produce a good show.”

A keen contest is in offing with all four teams wanting to produce their best to reach the final.


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Filed December 29th, 2021