Pakistan's World Cup-winning Under-19 squad returned to Karachi on Tuesday from Sri Lanka to a worthy lunch reception arranged by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) at the National Stadium. The board immediately announced cash awards for the entire squad of 14 players as well as three officials (coach Mansoor Rana, manager Aftab Baloch and trainer Grant Compton) and also plans to further their careers by involving them in the upcoming Twenty-20 Cup as well as the next first-class season.
Shaharyar Khan, the board chairman, announced awards of Rs 200,000 each and applauded the team's achievements in becoming the only side to retain the U-19 title - Pakistan were the defending champions, having won the title two years ago in Bangladesh. He said "We must say that the team exhibited unity, discipline and hard work. We are extremely proud of what these youngsters have achieved and brought laurels for their country."
Anwar Ali, who ended with 15 wickets in the tournament and a five-wicket haul in the final, was a product of the PCB's first-ever national Inter-school tournament and came in for special praise. "Anwar's superb performance vindicated our decision to hold a national Inter-school tournament for the first time last year where this boy came into prominence while playing for Karachi's GBSS Metroville."
Shaharyar also announced tentative plans for the further development of these players by saying he would advise regions taking part in the Twenty20 Cup to include them in their teams to give them further exposure. "That would enable the boys to get experience of playing in front of large crowds and handling pressure situations. Also they will benefit greatly from playing with the senior players." He also added that plans were underway to field a team of youngsters - based loosely on the concept of the now-defunct Pakistan Eaglets - to play in next season's Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to further their development.
Two years ago, Pakistan, led by Khalid Latif beat West Indies in the final at the former Bangabandhu Stadium. Australia is the only other side to win the U-19 World Cup twice -- in 1987-88 and 2001-02.