Shahzaib attributes Pakistan’s unbeaten run at U19 World Cup to team unity

Pakistan's Shahzaib Khan opened up about his and the team’s journey at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 ahead of their semi-final against Australia.

By Amarnath Devaji

Pakistan have enjoyed a brilliant U19 World Cup campaign so far, winning five out of five games en route to the semi-finals.

One of the pillars of their campaign has been Shahzaib Khan, who has been the team’s highest run-getter and the fourth overall at the tournament with 260 runs in five matches.

Shahzaib Khan POTM Highlights | U19 CWC 2024

u19WC2024_Match_NZvPAK_SKhan_HalfCentury_POTMHL.mp4 (2024-01-27 13:22:51Z)

A humble Shahzaib deflected the praise, attributing the team's triumph in the tournament to their unity.

“If you see our last game when the batting didn't click, the bowlers put their hands up,” Shahzaib said speaking to ICC Digital. When the bowlers have an off day, the batters pull the team up,” he added.

“It's a combination of these things that has led to our success. We play as a unit and we hope to continue doing so in the semi-final.”

The game Shahzaib was referring to was Pakistan's final Super Six game against Bangladesh, where both teams were in contention for a semi-final spot.

Pakistan v Bangladesh | Match Highlights | U19 CWC 2024

Pakistan sealed a spot in the semi-finals with this win.

Having only 156 runs to defend, Pakistan bowlers pulled the team through with an exceptional bowling display to win the match in thrilling fashion by five runs.

“There was a bit of nerves when Bangladesh were chasing,” Shahzaib admitted. “It was a do-or-die match, a virtual knockout. We didn't have many runs on board but we knew that the wicket was difficult to bat on and that it would be challenging for Bangladesh to score those runs.

“We wanted to get early wickets and make the chase difficult for them. The pitch was such that it would be been difficult to score the runs despite it being a low score.

“It was a tough match but I feel this was our best performance among the five matches."

Shahzaib's focus will now be on the upcoming semi-final against Australia on Thursday. Pakistan are just two steps away from glory and a trophy that has eluded them for close to 20 years.

Pakistan last won the ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup in 2006 and came close in 2010 and 2014 when they reached the final.

Despite the challenges, Shahzaib underscores that the team's primary focus is on embracing their natural game, unshaken by the weight of history.

“We don't take any pressure, we are playing our natural game,” Shahzaib said. “We place equal importance on every match. We are putting our efforts into becoming champions this time around.

“I can't put into words the feeling of possibly winning the World Cup. For the country and the team, the feeling will be unparalleled if we end up winning.”

NewsU19 ICC Men's Cricket WCU19 Cricket World CupICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, 2024