Afghanistan and Pakistan will be competing for third place in the ICC U19 CWC when they face off at the John Davies Oval in Queenstown on February 1.
The Afghans lit up the tournament with a series of exhilarating performances before being beaten by Australia in the first semi-final. Pakistan, meanwhile, were comfortably defeated by India and will be determined to finish the tournament on a positive note. The two countries have already faced each other earlier in the competition, with Afghanistan running out winners by five wickets in their Group D encounter.
Afghanistan have enjoyed a memorable World Cup campaign. The U19 Asia Cup champions progressed to the semi-finals after defeating Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the group stages and then sprung a surprise against the hosts New Zealand, earning a thumping 202-run victory. It took an accomplished performance from Australia to halt their run.
Pakistan bounced back from that defeat to Afghanistan which opened their campaign with a nine-wicket win over Ireland and a thrilling three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka to confirm their place in the Super League quarter-finals. They looked to be hitting their stride at just the right time after a three-wicket win over South Africa until an in-form India dispatched them in the semi-finals.
Players to watch
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)
With 12 wickets from five matches, Shaheen Afridi has been Pakistan's most prolific bowler in the tournament. The towering left-arm fast bowler picked up 6/15 in a match-changing spell against Ireland in the group stage of the tournament and backed up that performance with hauls of 2/41 and 2/30 against Sri Lanka and South Africa, respectively.
Qais Ahmad (Afghanistan)
The 17-year-old leg-spinner is currently the tournament's joint-highest wicket-taker with 14 victims from five games. He helped his side beat Pakistan in the first match of the tournament by claiming figures of 3/38. This performance was followed by hauls of 2/37, 3/32 and 4/33 against Sri Lanka, Ireland and New Zealand, respectively.
World Cup history
This tournament has been Afghanistan's most successful to date. Their stark rise, from being also-rans to among the most talented sides in the world, is illustrated by the fact that all their ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup appearances have come this decade. Their best performance until now came in 2014, when they shocked Australia in the group stages to qualify for the quarter-finals, eventually finishing seventh.
Pakistan are the third-most successful team in ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup history behind only India and Australia, having taken home the title twice, in 2004 and 2006. They have made the final on a further three occasions, including at the first-ever tournament in 1988, with a team including future legends Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed. But for some poor fielding in their semi-final defeat to India, they could have been looking at another appearance in the final.
🗣️ Hassan Khan: “We had a couple of chances and if we’d availed them, it might have been a different story."— ICC (@ICC) January 30, 2018
Pakistan left to rue a bad day in the field 👇https://t.co/KNzMpq328Y #U19CWC pic.twitter.com/qWBDYg5ojT
Head to head
The teams have met on five previous occasions at U19 level and Afghanistan have the upper hand over Pakistan with three wins to two. The most recent three games have all been won by Afghanistan – one in this World Cup and two in the U19 Asia Cup. Pakistan's last victory against Afghanistan came in the previous U19 CWC, in 2016.
Rain showers are expected in Queenstown and if the forecast is proved accurate the match could well be decided by DLS.
Afghanistan: Naveen-ul-Haq (c), Qais Ahmad, Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Ali Khil (wk), Rahmanullah, Mohammad Ibrahim, Zahir Khan, Darwish Rasooli, Baheer Shah, Tariq Stanikzai, Nisar Wahdat, Wafadar, Waqarullah Ishaq, Mujeeb Zadran, Yousuf Zazai
Pakistan: Muhammad Zaid Alam, Imran Shah, Rohail Nazir (wk), Ali Zaryab, Mohammad Taha, Ammad Alam, Saad Khan, Hasan Khan (c), Muhammad Musa, Shaheen Afridi, Arshad Iqbal, Suleman Shafqat, Mohammad Ali Khan, Munir Riaz, Muhammad Mohsin Khan