ICC U19 Cricket World Cup: Abbas Afridi a key member of Pakistan bowling attack
Pakistan U19’s leading wicket-taker at the end of the group stage is the FATA-born all-rounder Abbas Afridi who has collected eight wickets in three Group C games of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup being played in South Africa.
Abbas, who bowls right-arm-fast-medium, has provided great support to the strike bowlers Tahir Hussain, Mohammad Waseem and Amir Khan in Pakistan’s three games against Scotland, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
His performance has given great depth to the bowling attack and Abbas lends balance to the squad with his big-hitting abilities with the bat at number eight. Abbas took two for 32 in Pakistan’s opening match against Scotland where the boys in greens sent the Scots packing for 75 runs.
He then made match winning contributions against Zimbabwe when the game was at a knife’s edge. His twin strikes in the 39th over of Zimbabwe’s innings brought Pakistan right back in the match, at the start of the over the African country needed 88 runs to win off 72 balls with seven wickets in hand.
Abbas conceded a mere two runs in the over while taking two crucial wickets with his slower one and seam-up delivery respectively.
On Friday, Abbas provided the perfect foil to debutant Amir Khan in the game against Bangladesh by taking three wickets for 20 runs in seven probing overs.
Abbas followed Amir’s four-wicket burst in the opening overs of the rain-ruined match which came to a premature end due to persistent rain and a subsequent wet outfield with Pakistan in complete domination having reduced Bangladesh to 106 for nine in 25 overs.
Abbas Afridi said: “I am happy with my contribution in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup so far especially since I have taken the most wickets for Pakistan. I want to continue my form and make all-round contributions since I feel I can deliver with both bat and ball.
“I really enjoy bowling with the semi new ball. I rely on bowling seam-up while my slower one is also a wicket taking ball for me. I got crucial wickets when they needed few runs to win. I tried to contain the batsmen by bowling slower ones and also succeeded in getting wickets in the process.
“We got [Afghanistan] out for 160 in the Asia Cup U19 tournament last year and we hope to get them for a low total again in the quarter-final match.
“I want to progress to Pakistan’s senior men’s team and become a Test cricketer. Leading up to this tournament our coach Ijaz Ahmed and bowling coach Rao Iftikhar worked very hard with us which has given us the results.
“I am very confident that we will make it to the semi-finals by beating Afghanistan in the quarters.”
Pakistan are travelling to Johannesburg on Sunday and will start training for the quarter-final clash against Afghanistan from Monday.
The two-time champions take on the Afghans in the last-eight clash at the Willowmore Park, Benoni on Friday, 31 January.
Pakistan ICC U19 Cricket World Cup squad:
Rohail Nazir (captain and wicketkeeper), Abbas Afridi (Peshawar), Abdul Wahid Bangalzai (Quetta), Amir Ali (Larkana), Amir Khan (Peshawar), Arish Ali Khan (Karachi), Fahad Munir (Lahore), Haider Ali (vice-captain), Qasim Akram (Lahore), Mohammad Haris (Peshawar), Mohammad Huraira (Sialkot), Mohammad Irfan Khan (Lahore), Mohammad Shehzad (Multan), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (North Waziristan), Tahir Hussain (Multan)
Team management – Ijaz Ahmed (head coach-cum-manager), Rao Iftikhar Anjum (bowling coach), Abdul Majeed (assistant coach), Saboor Ahmad (trainer), Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rasul (physiotherapist), Usman Hashmi (analyst), Emmad Ahmed Hameed (media manager) and Col (retd) Usman Riffat Anwari (security manager).