TWO-TIME champion Pakistan did what it had to do in its ICC Under-19 World Cup opener against Afghanistan at Buderim yesterday, clinically disposing of the cricketing minnow to launch its campaign in style.
The 109-run victory was reward for an all-round solid performance and left Pakistan coach Sabih Azhar excited about what the team could achieve in the tournament.
"We are here to win this World Cup," he said after the match.
Afghanistan's coach, former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson, was left rueing his side's poor batting - a performance not reflective of the ability of the war-torn country's batsmen, he said.
Batting first, Pakistan made 6-253 off 50 overs.
Opener and captain Babar Azam top-scored with 75 off 103 balls, and No.7 Mohammad Nawaz made 66 (50).
No.3 Imam-ul-Haq, the 16-year-old nephew of Pakistan Test great Inzamam-ul-Haq, made 25 (51).
Sayed Shiraz (2-43) and Mohammad Yamin (2-54) were the pick of Afghanistan's bowlers.
In reply, Afghanistan was bowled out for 144 in the 46th over.
No.3 Hashmatullah Shaidi top-scored with 50 (70).
Zia ul-Haq, Pakistan's best bowler, finished with 4-30 off 8.1 overs.
Leg-spinner Usman Qadir, the son of legendary leg-spinner Abdul Qadir, claimed 1-19 off 7 overs.
Azhar had nothing but positive things to say about his team's effort.
He said Pakistan's extensive preparation for the series, including a successful three-match series against Australia's under-19 side, meant the players were acclimatised to Australia's bouncier wickets.
"I'm very happy the players are adjusting very well to the conditions and pitches," he said.
"They had a good start today … whenever you're playing the first match of your tournament, it's very important to make some mark on it - play well, bowl well, field well - to get your confidence in the tournament.
"And Afghanistan are a very dangerous team, I think.
"They've been playing very well for the last one-and-a-half years."
Lawson praised his players' bowling and fielding, but said they needed more self-belief.
"We need to start believing we can beat the Pakistan, Indians and Australians of this competition," he said.
Pakistan's next match is against Scotland at Kev Hackney Oval, Buderim, tomorrow, and Afghanistan will play New Zealand at the same venue on Tuesday.
Game one scorecard
(B Azam 75, M Nawaz 66)
Afghanistan 144 (H Shaidi 50, Z ul-Haq 4-30)
Pakistan won by 109 runs
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