Former India speedster Zaheer Khan is hopeful that the talented bunch of India juniors will bring their A game to the fore against arch-rivals Pakistan in the ICC U-19 World Cup semi-final on Tuesday.
India comprehensively beat Australia by 74 runs in their quarter-final while Pakistan beat Afghanistan in their last-eight ckl.
“Well, the U-19 kids are doing very well,” Zaheer Khan said at a promotional event. “They have been in some tough situations and they have fought back from there, so that goes a long way in a tournament like [the] World Cup, when you are competing against different nations.”
“When you are talk about India-Pakistan matches, it brings out an extra edge to the whole competition. So I am sure the boys will be geared up for the big occasion and they will do well,” he added.
The left-armer also had words of praise for Yashashvi Jaiswal, who has been giving consistent starts to the India-U19 side.
“He [Jaiswal] has been doing well. In domestic ODI competition also he has made that impact. So, I wish him all the luck and [he] has got the potential and at the moment [he is] serving for U19 Indian team.
“So the team needs him getting us off to a good start. It is about the team coming together and if he can spark that with a good start, nothing like that,” said Zaheer.
The upcoming Indo-Pak contest also brought back memories for Zaheer, who first played Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, co-incidentally held in South Africa.
“For me, the World Cup, both 2003 and 2011, is something which was very special in terms of winning those matches and 2003 was the first time I was playing against Pakistan in an international scenario, so that was more memorable for me in terms of understanding how it goes in a match of that magnitude,” Zaheer said.
He also wished the India’s women’s team well, which will take part in the T20 World Cup.
“They have been doing fantastically well. They have been superb with whatever opportunities they are getting, so the World Cup is another opportunity for them to go out there and inspire girls in our country,” he said.
India will only get better
Zaheer described India’s 5-0 T20I triumph in New Zealand as a “huge achievement” and urged the team to carry the momentum into the three-match ODI series. The Indian team whitewashed New Zealand with a dominant display, including prevailing in two super overs.
When asked about it, Zaheer said: “I am expecting things to get better. New Zealand were having a tough time, they tried to find answers to beat this Indian team. But I feel 5-0 victory is a huge achievement.”
This is only the third instance when India whitewashed their opponents in away T20 series. India had blanked the West Indies 3-0 in 2019 and beat Australia 3-0 in 2016. “They should take a lot of pride from what they have done from the New Zealand. It is definitely going to be a tough [ODI] series for New Zealand.
“For India, it is about maintaining that momentum and carrying the confidence from previous series win to the ODI and test matches,” he said.
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