Bangalore, Jul 30: Pakistan's middle-order batsman Azhar Ali has said playing in the Under-19 World Cup was one of his dreams and he fulfilled that by taking part in the 2002 edition.
Azhar, who was shortlisted for ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year Award in 2010, played as a bowler in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2002 in New Zealand.
Today, he has blossomed into a batsman on whom Pakistan can rely upon.
This year's Under 19 World Cup will be held in Australia from August 11 to 26.
"It was certainly one of the highlights of my career. Playing in an U19 Cricket World Cup was my biggest dream at that point and I am fortunate that I was able to fulfill my dream," said Azhar in a media release issued by ICC.
He added: "I didn't play in many games in New Zealand but it was good to be part of a global event and be in an environment where everyone was talking about cricket, and how to excel, improve and do something special for their country."
Azhar said the ICC U19 CWC helped him overcome his fears. "I was a bit scared about doing and trying different things. But this event helped me overcome this, as evident from the fact that I shifted my attention to batting and today I am playing in the Pakistan side as a middle-order batsman.
"The ICC U19 CWC can help you with plenty of things. I think the players need to evaluate pre-event what they want to achieve out of this tournament and then work on those things. It's not necessary that if you have been a top performer in the event, you are a complete cricketer. There are still plenty of grey areas that need to be improved and if you are an organised and committed cricketer, you will review the event and work on those areas to become a better cricketer.
"Teenagers vying for glory in Queensland next month will have a great advantage not only because of the excellent playing conditions they will get in Australia, but also because of the fact that if you play in countries like Australia and England, then your performances are noticed and taken seriously. This fast-tracks your entry into international cricket and with the ICC Cricket World Cup three years away, who knows some of the performers from this event may return in 2015 to become real heroes."