India will clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in the under-19 International Cricket Council World Cup quarterfinal on Monday. A 107-run win over Papua New Guinea in their last Group C game on Thursday in Townsville meant that India now run into the boys from across the border.
The emotions involved when India and Pakistan face-off on the cricket field, ensure that the contest is always more than a sport. And the breathtakingly close recent encounters between the under-19 teams of the two nations has meant that World Cup quarterfinal on Monday will be a high-voltage affair.
In the 2010 edition of the junior World Cup, Pakistan had knocked-out India at the same stage. While the last two times when the countries clashed in the U-19 Asia Cup, Pakistan beat India by a solitary run in the group game and tied the final. Devastated at having lost to Pakistan twice, after having come so close, the Indian players had vowed to extract revenge in the World Cup.
India U-19 skipper Unmukt Chand had expressed the team’s desire to convert the disappointment into a decisive win. With a knock out clash waiting, the boys in blue will have a chance at redemption. “We are very disappointed at having victory in sight on two occasions but failing to cross the line. If we meet them at the World Cup, we will surely get our revenge,” Chand had told HT in July.
And before leaving for Australia, Vijay Zol had claimed how the team would approach the tournament. “We are going to treat every game as our last game and give it our 100%. We will not be disturbed to see any team, even Pakistan, in the quarters.”
Tough task ahead
However, India’s form in the ongoing tournament will not imbibe automatic confidence. India suffered a loss to West Indies in the event opener and followed it up with unconvincing victories over Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea. Pakistan on the other hand are yet to taste defeat. To have any chance of continuing their march towards Championship glory, India will have to fill-up any prevailing lacunae in their game.