U-19 World Cup: Another Indo-Pak thriller in store today

Feb 15, 2014, 06:05 IST | Gaurav Joshi

As history suggests India-Pakistan U-19 games have been close encounters, their World Cup opener today in Dubai could be a humdinger

Dubai: Over the past few years, India against Pakistan clashes at the under-19 level have been thrilling contests, decided by virtue of a few runs or a sole wicket. At the two previous Under-19 World Cups in 2010 and 2012, both teams have managed to knock out the other team from the tournament.

India under-19 skipper Vijay Zol. Pic/Getty Images.

This time around the teams are in the same group and despite today’s India vs Pakistan game not being a knockout one, the winner will hold a huge psychological advantage and is likely to be guaranteed a top spot in the group.

India’s patchy form
India, the reigning champions, beat Pakistan in the final of the Asia Cup last month. But leading into the World Cup, India’s form has been patchy. The Indians have lost both their warm-up matches (Sri Lanka and South Africa) quite convincingly while Pakistan brushed aside Australia in the lead-up to their campaign.

Mumbai’s Sarfaraz Khan, who is playing in his first World Cup, will look to make an impression after his unbeaten half-century in the warm-up game against South Africa on Wednesday when India lost by five wickets.

A lot will depend on skipper Vijay Zol and Sanju Samson, the two pioneers of the current under-19 team for India to put up a huge score. It is this pair that scored hundreds in the Asia Cup final and ensured India posted a total of 300 plus. With the Indian top order struggling in the warm-up matches, it’s an opportunity for Pakistan to put the Indians under pressure.

Opening stand
Ankush Bains and Akhil Herwadkar will be required to lay a strong foundation at the start. They have been guilty in the past few matches of not converting starts and the first match is a perfect opportunity to showcase their skills yet again.

Pakistan on the other hand will look to make early inroads in the Indian batting, and hope India’s fast bowlers will have trouble living up to expectations. Either way, this game is likely to be another mouth-watering contest. A simple missed opportunity could decide the fate of the contest. At least history suggests so.

Live on TV: India vs Pak on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2 and Star Sports HD 2, 10:45

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