Townsville (Australia), Aug 19: India and Pakistan will face off once again in the Under-19 category in the quarter-finals of ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup here at Tony Ireland Stadium on Monday.
In the recent Under-19 Asia Cup final in Kuala Lumpur, it was a thrilling tie and both teams shared the trophy. Yet again, an exciting contest is on the cards.
Though India enjoy an overall 9-7 record against Pakistan in U-19 cricket, the latter has performed better in big and pressure matches, having won five of the six contests in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cups.
Pakistan beat India in the semi-final of the 2004 event in Bangladesh, then in the 2006 final in Sri Lanka and overpowered India again in the quarter-final in New Zealand in 2010. In the inaugural event in 1988, Pakistan defeated India by 68 runs while India's only victory in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup came in the 1998 event in Durban where it beat Pakistan by five wickets.
In the ongoing event, Pakistan remained unbeaten in Group B while in Group C India suffered a shock defeat against the West Indies before it bounced back to win convincingly against Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Looking ahead to the match, Pakistan captain Babar Azam, who is the second leading run-getter with 182 runs, said: "We played India in the Asia Cup in Malaysia before this tournament and we won one (by one run) while the other game (the final) ended in a tie. There is always a tight contest between us and we are expecting nothing different this time.
"Our players are aware of how exciting this is for the supporters of both the teams. They know that there will be millions of fans glued to their screens seeing the action when we meet. The last time we met the games were exciting so we hope that continues."
India captain Unmukt Chand, who has scored 104 runs so far, said: "Pakistan will be a challenge but we have worked hard on our skills coming into the tournament and also on the mental side of our game.
"We played Pakistan twice in Malaysia in June and learnt a lot from those matches. So, we are confident that we can perform very well not only in the quarter-final but also in the rest of the matches."
Also on Monday, New Zealand will lock horns with West Indies in quarter-finals.
The West Indies have won both their previous two encounters against New Zealand in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cups and also remained unbeaten in Group D. In contrast, New Zealand lost to Pakistan by five wickets, narrowly beat Afghanistan by eight runs and defeated Scotland by 39 runs.
Looking ahead to the quarter-final, West Indies' captain and Test opener Kraigg Brathwaite said: "We played against New Zealand in one of the warm-up games. They are a quality team. They have some good bowlers and their top-five is pretty stable.
"I think the conditions are good with the sun being out. The pitch is doing a bit and may get a little slower as the tournament goes by. But I think whichever team plays better cricket on the day will win."
New Zealand captain Will Young, who is the eighth leading run-getter with 136 runs, said: "We're working very hard at the moment and believe we can step up now that we are in the quarter-finals. The West Indies have been impressive but it is up to us to test them now."
Super League Quarter-finals on Monday
*Mon 20 August - India vs Pakistan, Tony Ireland Stadium, Townsville
Mon 20 Aug -New Zealand vs West Indies, Endeavour Park 1, Townsville
*Indicates broadcast matches
Plate Championship Quarter-finals on Monday
Mon 20 Aug - Sri Lanka vs Nepal, Peter Burge Oval, Brisbane
Mon 20 Aug - Ireland vs Namibia, WEP Harris Oval, Brisbane