LAHORE - As the ICC Under 19 World Cup enters quarter Final stage, all eyes are now firmly focused on what can only be described as the “El Classico” of the cricketing world – the much anticipated clash between two arch rivals, India and Pakistan.

If their last encounter in the Under 19 Asia cup in Malaysia which ended in a last ball tie was any indication, the quarter-Final in the World Cup clash in Townsville promises to be another blockbuster. With both teams brimming with confidence and coupled with the extraordinary talent, fans and experts expect nothing but a closely fought battle with no quarter given by either side.

 Whilst both sides have advanced to the Quarter Final stage without too many alarms, the weight of expectations to perform will be immense on the young shoulders of both squads. One of Pakistan’s brightest young talents, all rounder Mohammad Nawaz will be one such player who will be waiting anxiously to prove his mettle in the huge clash against India. In exclusive remarks to PakPassion.net, Nawaz spoke of his own background and his rise to fame in the Under 19 arena and gave his insight into the pressures and preparations for the upcoming crucial game against India.

Nawaz hails from Rawalpindi started off as a ‘tape ball’ player in the city and soon progressed to ‘hard ball’ cricket where he represented his school and then became part of the national Under 15 and Under 19 squads. A left arm spinner and batsman, Nawaz spoke highly of the veteran Pakistani opener Saeed Anwar.

“Apart from Imran Khan who is generally the inspiration for most Pakistani cricketers, if there is one more cricketer that has influenced me, that has to be Saeed Anwar. In terms of a pure allrounder, Shahid Afridi is the other player whom I really admire.”

Nawaz was selected to tour with the Pakistan Under 15 team to the West Indies in 2008 with fellow colleagues Babar Azam, Zafar Gohar and Usman Qadir. His performances into the International arena when he was selected for the Under 19 tour of South Africa, finishing the tour as Pakistan’s highest wicket-taker with 20 wickets at an average of 16.35.

More recently at the Asia Cup in Malaysia, he showed his all-round ability with an attacking 53 runs off 33 balls with the bat before returning to pick up 3 for 9 with the ball against the hosts.

His current Under 19 World Cup campaign has seen a further reinforcement of his credentials as he was named man of the match against New Zealand. Not one to believe in tags, Nawaz doesn’t feel obliged to be identified as an all rounder but as someone who can give his fullest as and when an opportunity arises.

“I don’t agree with this idea of being tagged as an all rounder. In my view, if I have to bat, I bat like a regular batsman and give my 100%. It’s the same when I am asked to bowl - I play as if I am a bowler. The more important point is to enjoy what you do and perform at your peak. I feel confident in both aspects of my cricket”

For cricketers from the sub-continent, the India Pakistan clash represents the most memorable point of their playing careers and the Under 19 cricketers are not immune to the pressures of such high profile games.

“The team as a whole is very confident about the upcoming game against India. We have all been working very hard on all aspects of our game and we are particularly happy about the backup and support provided by our fans. We are aware that Indian batting is strong but we feel that the Indian captain Unmukt Chand is the main batsman to watch out for and is a threat to us.”

The two arch rivals meet in an all important Quarter Final on 20th August in Townsville with the winner moving on to play the Semi Finals on 23rd August, against either New Zealand or West Indies.

–Courtesy Pakpassion.net