Akbar Ali has been the toast of the cricketing world this week after leading Bangladesh to the ICC Under-19 World Cup title in South Africa.

The wicketkeeper-batsman was the player of the match in the final and has gained plaudits for being calm under pressure right through the tournament.

The Bangladesh Under-19 team returned to Dhaka on Wednesday and Ali was part of a press conference at Mirpur’s Sher-e-Bangla stadium soon after.

The 18-year-old reflected on his team’s historic journey to the Under-19 World Cup title and thanked the Bangladesh Cricket Board for its support.

“I believe age-group cricket is different compared to international cricket, the latter is much more difficult and challenging,” said Ali. “The board is providing us facilities to move on to the next level and our first target will be to minimize the gap between age-level cricket and international cricket and prepare ourselves properly for the next level.”

Ali elaborated further on how he and his team need to work harder going forward and that this is just the start for them.

“After winning the World Cup we got two days rest in South Africa and our team management gave us some messages to prepare ourselves for the next level. We are determined not to be carried away after winning the Under-19 World Cup. We know our professional career has just started,” he said.

Ali added: “We know that we need to improve ourselves as players. As I said, we are not carried away with self-satisfaction after winning the Under-19 World Cup, rather we are taking this as an inspiration and will try our best and train hard to reach the next level.”