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Pakistan U19 captain reflects on learnings from four-dayer versus Bangladesh

 

When play began on the final morning of the U19 four-day contest between Pakistan and Bangladesh, any result was possible. The match in the last three days had swung like a pendulum.

The tourists, set 411 to win with nine wickets in hand, had 60 on board, faced an uphill task but hung in for a draw by finishing at 357 for six.

The solitary red-ball fixture was a curtain raiser for what is a six-match tour. The two sides play three 45-over matches and two T20s over the next two weeks, providing the teenage cricketers an opportunity to experience all the formats of the game under the competitive environment of international cricket.

“We do not play a lot of four-day cricket at the junior level but this was a great learning and enjoyable experience,” said Saad Baig, the Pakistan captain. “We learnt the importance of being patient and the art of protecting one’s wicket.”

That Bangladesh had a mammoth target to surmount was because of the sparkling centuries from Saad and Wahaj Riaz that lifted Pakistan to 347 after being two down for only 27 in the second innings.

The pair added crucial 222 runs for the third wicket and put Pakistan on path of posting an imposing target in a match that had produced totals of 224 and 161.

Both the batters scored 117 - while Wahaj’s took 172 balls in which he smashed 10 fours and five sixes, Saad brought up his at a strike rate of 87.31, smashing 18 fours and a six in his 134-ball innings.

“We did not have a good start to the game but we made a great comeback. When I joined Wahaj at the crease at 27 for two, we talked about playing the ball on merit and spending time at the crease,” recalled Saad at the end of the match. “We played out 18 overs on day two. We decided to bat long before the third day and succeeded in stitching a 222-run partnership.”

After their partnership came to an end, Haseeb Nazim, with a solid half-century (53 off 74), helped with the moment.

Pakistan had Bangladesh one down for 60, but a gutsy century from Sharear Sakib and 80s from Jishan Alam and Mohammad Shihab James rescued the tourists.

In what Bangladesh’s first century of the match, Sharear scored 134 off 202 balls in which he struck 21 fours. His partnership for the third wicket with Jishan, who made 97-ball 81, hitting nine fours and three sixes, of 166 ensured Pakistan bowlers do not get any further opportunities to make inroads in what was a crucial time in Bangladesh’s innings.

“We began well on the fourth day, but Bangladesh played good cricket and dominated the first session,” said Saad. “We managed to fight back in the second session but eventually they claimed the third session and the evenly contested match ended in a draw.”

As the match entered the thrilling final session, Pakistan needed to take four wickets, but Shihab, with his 85 not out off 130, provided stiff resistance. The two captains shook hands as the sun sank on the City of Saints. If the closely-contested four-day match is any indicator, the upcoming five white-ball matches are going to keep every fan and follower excited.

“It was a great match to be part of. It is an honour to captain Pakistan at any level and it is a big achievement to lead the team in my first year at the U19 level. We have had a fantastic match and everyone is now excited for the one-days. Our focus is now on the three one-day matches and the aim is to pocket that series.”

The two sides play three 45-over matches on 10, 12 and 14 on November, before the two T20s on 16 and 18 at the same venue.

Scores in brief:

Pakistan U19 224 all out, 68 overs (Mohammad Zulkifal 43, Ali Asfand 41 not out; Rohanat Doullah Borson 3-42, Jishan Alam 2-3, Maruf Mridha 2-29) and 347 all out, 79.1 overs (Saad Baig 117, Wahaj Riaz 117, Haseeb Nazim 53; Mohammad Shihab James 4-24, Rohanat Doullah Borson 2-61, Mahfuzur Rahman Rabby 2-81)

Bangladesh U19 161 all out, 56 overs (Chowdhury Mohammad Rizwan 40, Rohanat Doullah Borson 23 not out; Abdul Basit 3-18, Aftab Ibrahim 2-31, Mohammad Ibtisam 2-32, Ali Asfand 2-39) and 357-6, 92 overs (Sharear Sakib 134, Mohammad Shihab James 85 not out; Mohammad Ibtisam 2-66, Mohammad Ismail 2-83)

Target: 411 runs

Result: Match drawn

© Cricket World / PCB