Bouyant Pak aim hat-trick of titles

Published: Saturday, February 16, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Defending champions Pakistan, who won the 2004 and 2006 events, begin their quest for hat-trick of U-19 World titles against the hosts Malaysia. Pakistan defeated West Indies to capture the 2004 title and then defeated India in a thrilling final, despite only making 109 all out in their innings in 2006.

mad Wasim, a left arm spinner and a useful lower-order batsman, will lead the hot favourites. And Imad's faith in his teammates can be seen when asked to name who the key players in his squad will be.

"Every player in our team is a key player because it depends on the situation of the game. "We will play to win and only to win," Wasim, who led Pak Colts to a 5-0 win over Australia in Oct 2007, said.

Pakistan finalized their preparations for the event with a two-week training camp at the National Cricket Academy before taking part in a triangular series against Sri Lanka and England in Colombo in January.

Players to watch:

Umar Akmal: Right-hand batsman up the order is the younger brother of Pak wicketkeeper Kamran. He is a run-machine for his first-class side SNGPL. He scored 851 runs for his club including an outstanding 248 against Karachi Blues in the Pak's premier domestic event Quaid-e-Azam.

Ahmad Shazhad: An attacking opening batsman has the ability to destroy the formidable attacks on his day. He showed his class when he scored 315 runs, at an average of 105.00, including a top score of 115, in the recent home series against Australia.

Ali Asad: A quality left-handed middle order batsman, who took part in the last U-19 World Cup, will also play an important role and topped the batting averages in Pak's away series against Bangladesh last Dec but Bangla Colts stunned their Pak counterparts with 3-2 series win.The fact that only Ali Asad, Umair Mir and Ahmad Shazhad managed to pass fifty during the course of the five match series will provide cause for concern if the team are going to defend their title in Malaysia.

On the bowling front, Adil Raza, an excellent fast bowler, who took four wickets in the series against Australia and eight wickets in the Bangla series is likely to be one of the leading bowlers at the event, while Mohd Rameez can swing the ball both ways with the new ball.

Squad: Imad Wasim (captain), Umar Amin, Ali Asad, Shahzaib Ahmed Khan, Ahmad Shahzad, Muhammad Amir, Muhammad Azhar Attari, Usman Salah-ud-Din, Muhammad Junaid Khan, Umair Mir, Umar Akmal, Muhammad Rameez, Shaan Khan, Mirza Ahsan, Adil Raza.

Pakistan Colts record in U-19 World Cup:

1988: R-up; 1998: 4th; 2000: Semi-final; 2002: 3rd; 2004: Champions; 2006: Champions


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