Mohammad Zeeshan’s outstanding spell helps Pakistan U19 start with a win at ACC U19 Asia Cup 2023

Pakistan U19 began their ACC U19 Asia Cup 2023 campaign on a high note after defeating Nepal U19 by seven wickets at ICC Academy Ground No 2 in Dubai. Right-arm quick Mohammad Zeeshan registered a six-wicket haul to help dismiss Nepal U19 for 152 in 47.2 overs. In turn, Saad Baig-led Pakistan U19 chased 153 in 26.2 overs with seven wickets to spare.

Pakistan U19’s decision to bowl first paid dividends as Zeeshan ran through the Nepal batting line-up. The 18-year-old pacer picked up six wickets at the expense of 19 runs, registering the second-best figures at this level for a Pakistan bowler, bested only by Shaheen Shah Afridi who registered 6-15 against Ireland in 2018.

He was supported well by his fellow quicks as left-armer Amir Hassan grabbed two wickets and right-armer Ubaid Shah had one to his name. Left-arm spinner Ali Asfand got a wicket too.

Nepal U19 opening batter Arjun Kumal contributed 21 from 37, including three fours, and was the only top-order batter to register a score in double digits. Fifth batter in, wicketkeeper-batter Uttam Magar produced a gritty half-century, hitting 51 from 76 balls including three boundaries and two maximums.

Left-hander Dinesh Kandel, who came to crease after the fifth wicket fell, stitched a 70-run stand with Magar, to help stable the innings. The partnership was cut short by Zeeshan, who removed Kandel for 31 from 59, including two fours and a six.

Chasing 153, Pakistan U19 faltered a little at the start. Right-arm pacer Gulshan Jha struck twice as opening batter Shamyl Hussain was caught for a duck and his fellow opener, Shahzaib Khan, joined him back in the pavilion shortly after, scoring only 15 from 29 including two boundaries.

Pakistan U19 captain Saad Baig (50, 56b, 5x4s) and Azan Awais (56 not out, 62b, 8x4s) batted together to yield a 108-run stand that brought the chase back on track. In the 24th over, Saad was caught off Aakash Tripathi’s bowling.

Zeeshan, who had earlier starred with the ball, then hit a fiery 20 from just eight balls, showcasing two fours and as many sixes. For his extraordinary all-round performance, Zeeshan was named man of the match.

Pakistan U19 are set to play against India U19 on 10 December at ICC Academy Ground with the first ball set to be bowled at 1030 PKT.

Scores in brief:

Pakistan U19 beat Nepal U19 by seven wickets

Nepal U19 152 all out, 47.2 overs (Uttam Magar 51, Dipesh Kandel 31, Arjun Kumal 21; Mohammad Zeeshan 6-19, Amir Hassan 2-15, Ubaid Shah 1-37, Ali Asfand 1-43)

Pakistan U19 153-3, 26.2 overs (Azan Awais 56 not out, Saad Baig 50, Mohammad Zeeshan 20 not out; Gulshan Jha 2-54, Aakash Tripathi 1-8)

Player of the match – Mohammad Zeeshan (Pakistan U19)

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