Ihsanullah had turned out for Afghanistan in the previous Under-19 World Cup as well © ICC
Neither of the three captains from Group B teams, Ihsanullah, Abraash Khan and Charith Asalanka, were short of confidence, but it was the Afghanistan Under-19 captain who firmly said that his team had set sights on the title.
Ihsanullah, the younger brother of Nawroz Mangal, drew confidence from Afghanistan’s series win against Pakistan in October 2014, and said that the Under-19 side looked up to the senior team.
“We beat Pakistan in their home so we hope we can beat them and top our group. We dream of winning the trophy, Insha Allah,” Ihsanullah said. “Obviously, we are inspired by the national team and wish to play for them. Our future is so bright so now we are looking for this achievement. All our national players are heroes. There’s nothing in Afghanistan but cricket is getting very big, because of them.”
Sri Lanka’s Asalanka, meanwhile, was wary of the expectations with his country having never won the Under-19 World Cup.
“I think all teams will have target to win the World Cup,” he said. “I will have the responsibility to bring the trophy home. If I can, it will be for the first time, and it will be a big thing. I think it is a tough group. Canada, Afghanistan and Pakistan are good sides.”
Abraash, the Canada captain, said that they were keen to get past the group stage for the first time and give a good account of themselves. “Our goal is to make the second round in this tournament,” he said. I know Canada has played many World Cups in the past, I played in the last one.
“We never made the second round. If we really believe in our preparations, we can make it. We don’t play that much cricket. Sometimes it is good to be an underdog. People don’t expect you to do well. We are trying to change opinions in the World Cup.”
Abraash took inspiration from offspinner Nikhil Dutta who has featured in the BPL and CPL, and said that Canada’s participation in the regional tournament in West Indies held them in good stead.
“Nikhil and I are from the same club. We have played in the same team, Abraash said.” It is good to see him making big strides and hopefully we can all follow his footsteps. We won one game out of six in the West Indies regional tournament. It was a good tournament to prepare for the World Cup because it is a step up for us.”
Abraash also identified Davy Jacobs, who had played for Eagles, Free State and Mumbai Indians among other teams, as a key figure in the set-up.
“Davy Jacobs is in my club,” Abraash said. He is not with the national body but he is the head coach in the Ontario Cricket Academy. We trained with him all winter and played with him all summer as well.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo