Under-19 World Cup 2008 February 25, 2008

Illness rules Mohammad Aamer out of tournament

Pakistan Under-19 fast bowler Mohammad Aamer has been ruled out of the rest of the U-19 World Cup in Malaysia after contracting the dengue virus. Aamer was hospitalized in Johor, where Pakistan played their group matches, and will not recover in time for the remaining matches, prompting the team management to call for allrounder Kamran Hussain, who bowls offspin, as a replacement.

Aamer opened the attack in Pakistan's first match of the tournament against Malaysia and took 3 for 12 but hasn't featured in any of their following games. His unavailability is a massive blow for Pakistan as he is regarded as their best bowler by coach Mansoor Rana .

"We don't see him recovering in time for this tournament," Rana said. "This is a big loss. He's a good batsman and a good fielder too. We will miss him. You will see him [emerge] in a couple of years."

Aamer first represented Pakistan at the U-19 level on their tour of Australia and impressed with ten wickets in five limited-over games. He also hit good form in the build-up to the World Cup with two four-wicket hauls in the tri-series involving England and hosts Sri Lanka. As a left-arm bowler, he was earmarked by Wasim Akram at a pace camp in May 2007 as a special talent for the future.

Pakistan's bowling attack, however, has coped remarkably well in Aamer's absence. Even though Adil Raza acknowledged that Aamer was their best bowler, he has spearheaded the attack and taken 11 wickets in the tournament so far. Pakistan's bowlers have masked the inadequacies of their batsmen by restricting the opposition to scores of 75 and 129, against Malaysia and Australia and defending targets as low as 156 and 173 versus New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

George Binoy is a staff writer at Cricinfo