India v Pakistan, U-19 World Cup quarter-final August 19, 2012

Acclimatised Pakistan ready for India

Pakistan had been constantly reminded of the different conditions awaiting them, which is why their quick adjustment during the three one-dayers against Australia had been a huge boost leading into the World Cup
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When the Pakistan team arrived at their service apartments in Townsville on Friday afternoon, having made the trip from Brisbane, there were five Indian cricketers sitting in the lobby. Had these been senior teams from the two countries, whose players are familiar with each other, there may have been an exchange of greetings. Not between the Under-19 cricketers. As the Pakistanis stood there in their green blazers, with their suitcases and kit bags, waiting to check in, they merely exchanged glances with the Indians. The quarterfinalists sizing each other up ahead of Monday's contest at Tony Ireland Stadium.

These sides have met before, at the Under-19 Asia Cup this year, in two tense contests. During the league phase of that tournament, Pakistan won a match they could have won more easily, by one run. In the final, India had to settle for a tie after dominating most of the chase. Both games were high-scoring contests in Kuala Lumpur; the conditions in Queensland are not as conducive to run-making.

Pakistan came to Australia earlier than most teams, in late July for three one-dayers on the Gold Coast. They won that series against Australia 2-1, a commendable result considering it was their first time here. Their performance in those matches led Australia's coach Stuart Law to remark that one could see Pakistan had been "playing together for quite a while."

This Pakistan Under-19 squad has been together since January, when they toured South Africa. They then played the Asia Cup and had a camp at the National Cricket Academy before coming to Australia. The captain Babar Azam and coach Sabih Azhar spoke of how the team had been constantly reminded of the different conditions awaiting them, which is why their quick adjustment during the three matches against Australia had been a huge boost for the players.

"We are playing as a unit and we have created a friendly team atmosphere," said Azhar. "Now they have developed the winning habit."

That winning habit has been on display during the warm-up matches of the World Cup and during the group games. Pakistan won everything, beating New Zealand, Afghanistan and Scotland to finish top of Group B.

The adjustment, however, hasn't been easy. After a long flight to Australia, Azam said most of the players slept for ages to rest and recuperate. When they awoke, they found unfamiliarity all around them. For starters, the adaptors for their mobile phones wouldn't fit into the plug points. They sought out each other and the officials for help and eventually queued up outside an electric supplies shop to buy them.

There's more. The players are staying in service apartments in Australia, not in hotels, so they were told by the team management that they would have to cook their meals and clean up after themselves. "Cooking, I never do at home," said Azam, speaking for most teenage boys on the subcontinent. "We've come here and we had to do it, so it's been hard. Sometimes we eat out; sometimes we cook here. First five days we went to McDonalds all the time. We are washing clothes in the machine, washing crockery as well."

After a long flight to Australia, Babar Azam said most of the players slept for ages to rest and recuperate. When they awoke, they found unfamiliarity all around them. For starters, the adaptors for their mobile phones wouldn't fit into the plug points. They sought out each other and the officials for help and eventually queued up outside an electric supplies shop to buy them. There's more. The players are staying in service apartments in Australia, not in hotels, so they were told by the team management that they would have to cook their meals and clean up after themselves.

Imam-ul-Haq, a top-order batsman and a nephew of Inzamam-ul-Haq, recounted how they set off fire alarms "three or four times" in their rooms. "The first one was his [Babar's] fault, he was just cooking an omelette I think," Imam said. "It was the first day, we were very hungry, Usman [Qadir], Babar and I. Suddenly the fire alarm went off; we thought we'd cause a panic. Usman said, 'Don't panic, don't panic.' We just held a towel near the fire alarm and opened the window. We were relieved and thought we will never cook food again."

But they have cooked; well, some have while the others have eaten. According to Imam, the fast bowlers Mir Hamza and Saad Ali, and vice-captain Umar Waheed are the chefs in the squad. "We just want to eat and they cook for us. When we visit their rooms, we clean their rooms after eating and we wash their crockery. So we help them," says Imam. "We really enjoyed it because all of us were in one room and we cooked together. It's a wonderful experience because we've been together for five or six months and we had never had this kind of experience."

How well an individual makes these adjustments affects how comfortable he feels in a foreign country and Imam knows it. "If you're playing cricket and going out of the country, we have to face these difficulties and responsibilities," he said. "If we have a problem in cooking, we can't give that an excuse to our coach."

Their acclimatization issues lasted for about five days and Azam said helping each other get used to how life functions in Australia had helped the team bond. "It's like family work," he said. "First five days were very difficult, to adjust to all this and play in the World Cup, but our support staff have really helped us. Now all the players have adjusted very well."

Pakistan have been performing like an extremely well-adjusted team. They beat Afghanistan by 109 runs, Scotland by nine wickets and New Zealand by five wickets. Between Pakistan's first and second victories, on August 12, India lost to West Indies in Townsville, and from then Azam's team has been talking about this quarterfinal clash. They did not really doubt they would top their group and therefore play India, who were likely to finish second in theirs.

"They are looking forward to it. That gives me confidence," says Azhar. "They are talking about [Indian] players, talking about strategies."

Both Azhar and Azam believe the exposure their players got during the Asia Cup to the pressures of an India-Pakistan contest will help them handle Monday's quarterfinal better. "The boys know the Indian players," said Azam. "If we hadn't played against India in the Asia Cup and now suddenly had to face them in the quarterfinal, there would have been more pressure. Not so much now."

Monday's quarterfinal at the Tony Ireland Stadium will be the first time Pakistan are playing in Townsville. Like how they did when they first arrived in Australia, they'll hope to settle in quickly.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY kc69 on | August 22, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    Was a great match and all those who predicted Pak win...tough luck buddy...here we go to Semi Finals as the only subcontinental team lets hope we win this.Jai hind

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    Still Courtney Walsh has doen a good job with these kids Beaton was looking real sharp from the game i saw v India he was averaging 86 87 mph which is the same if not quicker than Steyn at Lords yesterday.

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | August 20, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    Good job India, Still there and still fighting. Thats what matters. Good Luck against NZ. Try not to keep your supporters on knife edge next time. :)

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    I agree with Omar khan....What has brought the positive change though???

  • POSTED BY dheerajshetty on | August 20, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    Wow, what a close finish, Pakistan really bowled well to comeback into the game, but India held on to win and qualify to semis, great match indeed. Sandeep's 1st over was crucial for India's win.

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    Kinda ironic that an Indian hit the winning runs for NZ after W.I fast bowlers destroyed India in the group stage dunno how they managed to loose this

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    Excellent match! Good win for India and well played Pakistan. Let's hope India win the WC.

  • POSTED BY zimmby on | August 20, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    Gashhhh..... !!!! I thought India will reach the target rather comfortably after restricting Pak to 136. Didn't see them winning today's match based on how they fared in league stage, but now am certain they won't lift the cup... that's for sure. :'(

  • POSTED BY GasPipe on | August 20, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Oh New Zealand, you guys had me pacing the lounge, impatiently waiting for CricInfo's live feed to load and see what happened on the last ball. A thriller, and I couldn't even see it on TV! Sodhi you legend, on to the semifinals with confidence boys!

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Zahidsaltin, r u an idiot? NZ just made the semi-finals by beating West Indies. How did your team go?

  • POSTED BY kc69 on | August 22, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    Was a great match and all those who predicted Pak win...tough luck buddy...here we go to Semi Finals as the only subcontinental team lets hope we win this.Jai hind

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    Still Courtney Walsh has doen a good job with these kids Beaton was looking real sharp from the game i saw v India he was averaging 86 87 mph which is the same if not quicker than Steyn at Lords yesterday.

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | August 20, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    Good job India, Still there and still fighting. Thats what matters. Good Luck against NZ. Try not to keep your supporters on knife edge next time. :)

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    I agree with Omar khan....What has brought the positive change though???

  • POSTED BY dheerajshetty on | August 20, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    Wow, what a close finish, Pakistan really bowled well to comeback into the game, but India held on to win and qualify to semis, great match indeed. Sandeep's 1st over was crucial for India's win.

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    Kinda ironic that an Indian hit the winning runs for NZ after W.I fast bowlers destroyed India in the group stage dunno how they managed to loose this

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    Excellent match! Good win for India and well played Pakistan. Let's hope India win the WC.

  • POSTED BY zimmby on | August 20, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    Gashhhh..... !!!! I thought India will reach the target rather comfortably after restricting Pak to 136. Didn't see them winning today's match based on how they fared in league stage, but now am certain they won't lift the cup... that's for sure. :'(

  • POSTED BY GasPipe on | August 20, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Oh New Zealand, you guys had me pacing the lounge, impatiently waiting for CricInfo's live feed to load and see what happened on the last ball. A thriller, and I couldn't even see it on TV! Sodhi you legend, on to the semifinals with confidence boys!

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Zahidsaltin, r u an idiot? NZ just made the semi-finals by beating West Indies. How did your team go?

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    NZ needed 18 from the last over and Greaves choked 4 needed of last ball and they got it shame cos W.I already beat India and probably the only side that would beat them again India will probably take it now.

  • POSTED BY Porky_PigTheToon on | August 20, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    Despite being a die hard Indian fan, I would like to appreciate Pakistan Team's efforts to almost win the match. I find this Pak U19 team better than Ind U19. Indian lower batsmen never looked like playing for winning. The match that should have been easily won by India, PaK bowlers and Indian lower-order batsmen made it interesting. As someone said below doesn't matter much who wins, From both these U 19 teams, many future Indian and Pakistani stars will be seen very soon. Unmukt Chand, Sami Aslam, Babar Azam, Baba Aparajith, Sandeep Sharma - just to name a few. Cheers !

  • POSTED BY rahulcricket007 on | August 20, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    WOOH MAN WHAT A MATCH . BRILLIANT BOWLING FROM BOTH TEAMS . AGAIN PROVES THAT NO OTHER CAN MATCH THE INTENSITY OF INDO-PAK ENCOUNTER . BUT I M PRETTY DISAPPOINTED WITH INDIAN BATSMEN . EXCEPT BABA APARAJITH NO BODY STOOD UP AGAINST PAK BOWLERS .YOUNGSTERS NEED TO LEARN HOW TO PLAY MOVING BALL .

  • POSTED BY Fast_Track_Bully on | August 20, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    What a game! India Won by 1 wicket! It is all about tension man! kudos to both teams! And all the best to India for semi.

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    seems match is slipping away........... India moments away from a shameful loss and Pakistan moments away from a good win

  • POSTED BY fataquie on | August 20, 2012, 1:41 GMT

    It doesn't matter who wins. From my perspective, this match will produce super stars for future Pak vs India matches!

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | August 20, 2012, 1:08 GMT

    I wish both the teams play good cricket as they have been doing for a while now. They may not be physically as imposing as the Australians or the English but these boys are good in terms of cricket. Best of luck to them.

  • POSTED BY PakistaniChampions on | August 19, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    Well India might as well win this time because they were so close the last two times. Dont forget they are the joint Asia U-19 Cup winners. Good luck for Pakistan though.

  • POSTED BY vish2020 on | August 19, 2012, 22:27 GMT

    India bring home the victory!! Don't have pressure because pressure is for the weak who don't prepare with all they got. Beat em'!!! Jai Hind!!!

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 22:24 GMT

    Good to see somewhat balanced and non abusive comments.

  • POSTED BY sirvivfan on | August 19, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    This track offers lot of bounce. Bit worrying that Pakistan have not played here whilst India have! Should have been played on neutral ie no side has played previously played on on it! The toss will be crucial as well.

  • POSTED BY shahnoor-haque on | August 19, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    pakistan should win against india.win over india will give them a confidence to create a history.so,lets hope for the best

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | August 19, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    An interesting summary of all Asian newcomers to western countries. I am sure the Indian team also had similar experience unless they brought a cook with them. This promises to be an interesting match. Indian found a good seamer in Kamal Bassi who seems to be also a big hitter apart from a wicket taker. Hopefully he will get the pakistani batsmen in check. India has a strong batting line up in U.Chand, Aparajith, V.Zol, Patel to name a few. These guys are capable of getting a century & now is the time to do it if they wish to advance to the Semis. On Aussie wickets the bounce & seaming are the 2 conditions to watch. So the batsmen must paly themselves in before making strokes. Good Luck India . Play hard & win the match.

  • POSTED BY chailatte65 on | August 19, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    What an insightful article of a team trying to do their best with what has been provided to them!!! These young men can teach a lesson or two to their senior counter-parts. With no egos or money involved, we are about to witness cricket in its purest form. So, let us keep politics aside and enjoy the game. I wish both teams the very best.

  • POSTED BY Zahidsaltin on | August 19, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    In knock-out matches, no one can predict the outcome with surety. India isn't NZ or Afghanistan. They have a strong team. Just look at yesterdays match where Bangladesh had Australia licking their wounds and were only one wicket away from a different result. So just hope and wish for your respective teams and leave the rest to the game day. Just enjoy the contest regardless of who wins

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    No need to over confident, Pakistan should play professionally. Good Luck! Pakistan

  • POSTED BY Ra_Thore on | August 19, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    Pak will win...an Indian fan.

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    Both teams are well balanced.I am Pakistani and I love to see thAT Pakistani team should win this match and get the semi final.Lets hope for the best and best of luck to both teams.

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 20:05 GMT

    Amazing article. I can feel for them, they must have had a hard time out there. But our prayers are with them. Inshallah Pakistan will win! PAKISTAN ZINDABAAD!

  • POSTED BY piyo_thanda_jiyo_thanda on | August 19, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    Well this is world cup. So we know the result already. Pakistan are mentally very fragile and fearful against India in important games.

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    a wonderful article. really enjoyed reading it. Hope Pakistan beat India tommorrow and reach to semi-final. best wishes to the team Love you.

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    All the best to team Pakistan. On this auspicious occasion of Eid, we expect an Eid Gift from the young men in Greens.

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    why on earth are they doing all this in addition to prepping for their matches? Granted that they aren't playing at the national level yet but they are still representing their country in what's probably the most important tournament of their lives at this stage... we can't afford to give them a hotel and room service or enough money for them to buy healthy and nutritious food from outside...??? priorities are realllllly messed up here!

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    God this is we call lack of management, im preaty sure few desi family in the neighborhood love to coock for them. they just have to seek for help. SMH

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    Love Pakistan:) Very touching article!

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    pakistan will crush india

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    For sure Pakistan will win,Being a Indian i should support India,But Pakistan are in good form,They are getting along nicely

    UNDOUBTEDLY,Pakistan all the way!!!

  • POSTED BY dicky_boy on | August 19, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    Speaking as an indian , i find this team really strange and completely different to our senior team, well first they are hopeless , second no power hitters , all only tik tak players well 2 seasons of ipl should change that :) well for now i really do not see this team have much chance tomorrow , but lets see :)

  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | August 19, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    Hope there is a good game between these two. No politics, no pressure, just pure and innocent cricket between the boys from each nation. I am an Indian fan so I hope India wins and goes to the semi finals. Good luck to both teams.

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  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | August 19, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    Hope there is a good game between these two. No politics, no pressure, just pure and innocent cricket between the boys from each nation. I am an Indian fan so I hope India wins and goes to the semi finals. Good luck to both teams.

  • POSTED BY dicky_boy on | August 19, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    Speaking as an indian , i find this team really strange and completely different to our senior team, well first they are hopeless , second no power hitters , all only tik tak players well 2 seasons of ipl should change that :) well for now i really do not see this team have much chance tomorrow , but lets see :)

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    For sure Pakistan will win,Being a Indian i should support India,But Pakistan are in good form,They are getting along nicely

    UNDOUBTEDLY,Pakistan all the way!!!

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    pakistan will crush india

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    Love Pakistan:) Very touching article!

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    God this is we call lack of management, im preaty sure few desi family in the neighborhood love to coock for them. they just have to seek for help. SMH

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    why on earth are they doing all this in addition to prepping for their matches? Granted that they aren't playing at the national level yet but they are still representing their country in what's probably the most important tournament of their lives at this stage... we can't afford to give them a hotel and room service or enough money for them to buy healthy and nutritious food from outside...??? priorities are realllllly messed up here!

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    All the best to team Pakistan. On this auspicious occasion of Eid, we expect an Eid Gift from the young men in Greens.

  • POSTED BY on | August 19, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    a wonderful article. really enjoyed reading it. Hope Pakistan beat India tommorrow and reach to semi-final. best wishes to the team Love you.

  • POSTED BY piyo_thanda_jiyo_thanda on | August 19, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    Well this is world cup. So we know the result already. Pakistan are mentally very fragile and fearful against India in important games.