Preview: It's a must-win clash for both countries at the Cobham Oval. Both teams have followed the same script, winning against Ireland and losing to Afghanistan, and know that victory will secure a spot in the last eight. Pakistan have a slight advantage with a higher net run rate and with some rain around in Whangarei the weather could add some drama to proceedings.
Pakistan didn’t have the best of starts to the tournament, losing to Afghanistan by five wickets in their opening fixture, but three days later they got back on track with a comfortable nine-wicket victory over Ireland. In the earlier warm-up games, they beat Namibia by 190 runs, while the game against Bangladesh was washed out.
Sri Lanka also registered a comprehensive win against Ireland, prevailing by seven wickets, but were beaten by Afghanistan by 32 runs on DLS method. In their warm-up games, they lost to Australia by 53 runs while their fixture against England was abandoned due to rain.
Players to watch
Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pak)
Against Ireland, the 17-year-old left-arm pacer took six wickets for a mere 15 runs. In the last game he played against Sri Lanka in November 2017, Afridi picked up two wickets in a dominant win for his side. Pakistan will be counting on him to keep up his good form in this must-win clash.
Kamindu Mendis (SL)
The Sri Lanka captain put on an impressive all-round performance against Ireland, picking up three wickets and scoring an unbeaten 74 runs en route to victory. The ambidextrous Mendis can bowl both orthodox left-arm spin as well as right-arm off-spin, just as his compatriot Hashan Tillakaratne did against Kenya in the 1996 ICC World Cup.
Head to head
In six previous ICC U19 CWC meetings dating back to 1988, Pakistan have the upper hand with five victories, including at the 2014 and 2016 editions. In all U19 cricket the two countries have met a total of 34 times, with Pakistan winning on 18 occasions, 13 victories for Sri Lanka and three no results.
World Cup history
Pakistan are the third-most successful team in ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup history, having taken home the title twice, in 2004 and 2006, behind only India and Australia. They have made the final on a further three occasions, including at the first-ever tournament in 1988, with a team including future legends Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed.
In 11 previous appearances, Sri Lanka have reached the final once, against India on home soil in 2000, only to lose to a team that included Mohammad Kaif and Player of the Tournament, Yuvraj Singh. They have reached the semi-finals twice since, in 2010 and 2016.
It’s a good thing that the Cobham Oval is said to have good drainage. Rain and heavy winds are expected.
Pakistan: Hasan Khan (c), Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Ali Khan, Ammad Alam, Zaid Alam, Ali Zaryab, Arshad Iqbal, Muhammad Mohsin Khan, Muhammad Musa, Saad Khan, Rohail Nazir (wk), Munir Riaz, Suleman Shafqat, Imran Shah, Mohammad Taha.
Sri Lanka: Kamindu Mendis (c), Dhananjaya Lakshan, Santhush Gunathilaka, Hasitha Boyagoda, Nawanidu Fernando, Nipun Dananjaya, Ashen Bandara, Kishan Sanjula, Nishan Madushka, Jehan Daniel, Praveen Jayawickrama, Haren Buddila, Thisaru Rashmika, Kalana Perera, Nipun Malinga.
This article first appeared on ICC-Cricket.com, reproduced with permission.