Christchurch: The next phase of the ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand begins on Sunday with the Super League throwing up several fascinating encounters including Pakistan's clash with India.
The teams have not met on the cricket field since June 2000 and the Indian government has recently banned its players from competing against Pakistan at a senior level due to the tension between the two countries. However, the ban will not effect the Under-19 World Cup and the two countries will play in Christchurch on Thursday at Lincoln Green with defending champions India looking to preserve its hold on the trophy. "The government knows that we are participating in the under-19 World Cup in New Zealand and the team was given permission with the knowledge that India might have to play Pakistan," Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Niranjan Shah said last week. Pakistan qualified for the Super League on Friday by beating England by six wickets, but its form going into the next phase of the competition has been far from convincing, while India has its problems after suffering a shock defeat to Bangladesh. Both Pakistan and India begin their Super League campaign on Sunday against Sri Lanka and the West Indies respectively. In group two England faces the prospect of playing tournament favourites Australia on Wednesday after being drawn with South Africa and hosts New Zealand. "I'm not sure it's the harder group," said England coach Paul Farbrace. "We have not played together as a team and we deserved not to top the group after the first round. We need to get the guys playing as a unit." England's bowling has lacked penetration, apart from off spinner Paul McMahon, and against Australia, which racked up 480 against Kenya last week, Farbrace's team will have to improve. Captain and Durham batsman Nicky Peng is a vital player while Lancashire all-rounder Kyle Hogg must continue to add balance to the team if England is to compete with Australia. The Australians arrived in Christchurch on Saturday after winning all three of their first round group matches in Dunedin, with captain Cameron White and spinner Xavier Doherty in fine form. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals and to progress the management will be setting their players a target of at least two wins from their three Super League matches. Zimbabwe's failure to qualify for the Super League has made it favourites to win the Plate Championships but Nepal, which beat Pakistan last week, will expect to reach the semi-finals. The Plate Championship in Auckland begins on Sunday with Bangladesh playing Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe taking on Kenya.
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