GeneralYoung boys are very excited to face India – Saad Baig, Pakistan U19 captain

Young boys are very excited to face India – Saad Baig, Pakistan U19 captain

Pakistan v India contests capture the imagination of millions around the world. The fans on both sides of the border demand from their teams to win these particular contests and those who have done are regarded as heroes.

The two rivals will face off at the Under 19 level in the upcoming Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates. There will be pressure of expectations of passionate fans back home, but Saad Baig, the Pakistan captain, and his team are rather excited for 10 December.

“There definitely is pressure but it is all about how you handle pressure,” Saad tells GrassrootsCricket in an exclusive interview at the sidelines of the team’s pre-departure camp in Karachi. “We will try our best to play our best game. Young boys are very excited to face India. We have been preparing for quite some time now.”

In a wide-ranging interview, which will be available on GrassrootCricket’s official channels, Saad spoke about the upcoming tournament, new coaching setup and his role as a captain.

The 17-year-old from Karachi has led Pakistan last year against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, both home and away.

Like any other kid, Saad’s journey began from gully cricket. “I started from gully cricket. When I started with U16, it was a dream to represent Pakistan but Covid-19 hindered those plans. It was a dream to wear the star shirt for Pakistan. When I got the call for U19, I was at home with my mother and gave her the news, she was thrilled.”

Pakistan beat Bangladesh 4-1 in an ODI series earlier in 2023 under Saad’s captaincy. “As a captain you have high responsibility and have to lead from the front and then I am also a wicketkeeper-batter so that has to be balanced. I have to recognize my role as a captain and identify how to deliver my duties accordingly.”

Hailing from Karachi’s North Nazimabad, Saad finds himself in an esteemed company of Rashid Latif, Moin Khan, and Sarfaraz Ahmed. But, it was his father, who inspired him to take up the gloves.

“My father was a wicket keeper batter so that is where I get my interest from. Since a very young age I worked on my keeping skills.”

Saad idolises Babar Azam and dreams of putting together a partnership with him some day.

PCB has announced the appointment of former Test captain Mohammad Yousuf as head coach of the Under 19 squad and the teenage cricketers are enjoying their time with him.

“Muhammad Yousuf is a legend, the world knows him. I was thrilled when I got to know that he will be the head coach for U19 for the learning experience we will get.”

“He does proper one on one sessions with individual players, pointing out our mistakes and mentoring. He is a supportive pillar for the team. We will benefit from his guidance in the long term.”

Placed in Group A with Afghanistan U19, India U19, and Nepal U19, Pakistan’s journey kicks off against Nepal on December 8, followed by clashes with India and Afghanistan on December 10 and 12.

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