Pakistan’s next generation of talent is coming through strong, if their performances at the ICC U19 T20 World Cup 2023 are anything to go by.
Wins – 3
Losses – 2
Finishing position – Third in Super Six Group 2
The Pakistan squad would have hoped to have reached the semi-finals of the tournament, and they had the talent to do just that, so depart South Africa with some regrets that they were unable to overcome one of England and New Zealand.
They struggled to contain the power of those two teams, but were certainly not the only side to have such difficulty.
And in their three victories, Pakistan showed huge quality and massive potential for future success at senior level.
Three dominant run-chases set up the three wins in the middle of their campaign, with the top-order batters looking outstanding at times, particularly opener Eyman Fatima.
And no bowler took as many wickets in the group stage of the tournament as Pakistan’s 17-year-old spin sensation Anosha Nasir (10).
VIEW FROM THE GROUND
Sonali Dhulap was part of the ICC’s team on the ground in South Africa, and had this to say about her experiences working with and alongside the squad:
“The first word that comes to my mind when I think about the Pakistan girls is ‘friendly’. Pleasant and generally soft-spoken, they always had a smile to share when I passed by them. But they were a different beast altogether when they stepped on the field – focused, hyper-competitive and determined.
“It might not have worked for them the way they wanted it to in the biggest games, but they were a better team than they showed, led by a charismatic captain.
“The friendship and closeness between all of them was obvious to see. I remember them sitting around in a circle and playing games with their mentor Sana Mir, and were more than happy to belt into their favourite song ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’. They carried themselves gracefully throughout the tournament, all the while remaining eager to learn and with a desire to compete. And that in itself was heartening to watch.”
STAR PERFORMER – Eyman Fatima
The opener wasn’t just Pakistan’s best batter, she was one of the standout batters across the board at the tournament.
Her 157 runs came at an average of 52.33 and she showed a terrific array of shots, getting her team off to fast and dominating starts on a number of occasions.
NOTABLE MENTION – Anosha Nasir
The left-arm spinner was superb with the ball, taking ten wickets in the tournament.
Diminutive and bespectacled, Nasir proved she was not a bowler to be taken lightly, showing excellent control against the best batters that Pakistan faced.
Nobody in the tournament had taken more wickets than Nasir come the end of the Super Six stage.
WHAT THE MENTOR SAID
Former Pakistan captain and current ICC Mentor Sana Mir worked closely with the Pakistan squad during the tournament.
“The Mentorship Programme provides a unique opportunity to the next generation of cricketers to have their role models by their side to support, guide, assist to get the best out of them,” she said.
“It gives me immense pleasure to be a mentor to Pakistan and I’m enjoying watching the players bloom before our very eyes.”
Rwanda – Won by 8 wickets
An outstanding and unbeaten 65* from 60 balls from opener Eyman Fatima set up a successful run-chase against Rwanda in Pakistan’s opening game.
The bowling unit had done a decent collective job to restrict the African side to 106/8 from their 20 overs, and with Fatima in such fine form the chase was relatively straightforward.
The win came with 13 balls remaining and with eight wickets in hand.
England – Lost by 53 runs
Some brutal hitting at the death saw Pakistan let England pull to a sizeable 156/7 after the bowlers had done a decent job bringing the innings under control after a fast start.
Anosha Nasir and Zaibunnisa were the pick of the bowlers with 2/20 and 2/24 respectively.
But England’s all-round quality proved too much for Pakistan on the day, as they struggled to get any momentum with the chase and ended up settling for some time in the middle as any realistic chance of reaching the target slipped away, finishing on 103/5.
Zimbabwe – Won by 10 wickets
A stunning return to winning ways saw Pakistan demolish Zimbabwe in Potchefstroom.
The bowlers did a superb job in limiting their opponents to 97/6, with Anosha Nasir again starring with 2/21.
And the quality of the openers was clear for all to see in the reply, with Shawaal Zulfiqar (32* from 30) and Eyman Fatima (62* from 35) reaching 100 without loss off just 10.5 overs.
Ireland – Won by 7 wickets
The top order was in ruthless form again to lead Pakistan to a successful run-chase against Ireland, reaching a winning total of 117/3 with 15 balls still remaining. Each of the top four contributed.
Only a defiant knock from Annabel Squires had prevented Ireland from being blown away with the ball, with Anosha Nasir and Areesha Noor Bhatti the most impressive bowlers.
New Zealand – Lost by 103 runs
The need for fast early runs proved to be Pakistan’s undoing, as they went too big in search of a winning target of 179 against a quality New Zealand attack.
Both openers departed without scoring inside the first two overs, and not a single one of Pakistan’s top five reached double figures as they took too many risks.
There was a recovery lower down the order to save some respectability and ensure that they saw out the full allocation of overs, with Areesha Noor Bhatti top-scoring with a defiant 24 as Pakistan’s tournament came to a close.
Earlier, the bowlers had managed to take regular wickets, but they never got the powerful Kiwi batting line-up under control.