Fast bowling prodigy Amir Khan aims for U19 World Cup glory

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LAHORE, Jan 15 (APP):Pace bowling prodigy Mohammad Amir Khan is determined to make a big impression at the coveted ICC U19 Cricket World Cup.

The right-armer is the latest in the assembly line of Pakistan teenage fast bowlers following in the footsteps of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Musa Khan and Mohammad Hasnain.

The Swat-born can clock around and sometimes bowl beyond the 140 kmph mark on the speed gun. His pace and ability impressed the junior selection committee and the Pakistan U19 team management, who chose to induct him in the final squad for the tournament being hosted in South Africa.

Amir, who was playing tape-ball cricket on the streets and fields of Swat till only a year ago, burst on the domestic U19 scene this year with a haul of 18 wickets in five three-day matches of the National U19 championship in which he represented Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Featuring in a training camp in September last year at the National Cricket Academy, Amir found himself bowling with the likes of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz who gave him useful tips.

After resting from Pakistan’s opening warm-up game against Nigeria, Amir bowled his full quota of 10 overs at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria taking two wickets in his second spell as Pakistan cruised to a four wicket win against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

Amir Khan said on Wednesday, “I didn’t get any wicket in my first spell as I struggled a bit for control and direction.I am pleased with my performance in the second spell in which I took two wickets and also effectively used the slower delivery.

“My aim is to perform in every World Cup game and play a role in my team’s success. My pace is natural and I have worked hard on improving my run-up with the coaches. Our bowling coach Rao Iftikhar has worked with me and I have the support of the whole coaching staff.

“Attending a camp with senior players always helps. When I was at the NCA,I bowled with Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir. Both gave me useful tips which gave me a lot of confidence and heart.They told me to maintain my line and length and learn the slower ball”.

Amir, who first started playing cricket after watching the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 on TV, took a keen interest in tape-ball cricket where he made a name for his fast bowling before his rapid rise at the national junior level last year after he switched to the cricket ball.

The youngster wants to bowl quick like Shoaib Akhtar and admires the skills of England’s James Anderson.

The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup provides him the perfect platform of further raising his prospects of a national senior team call-up.

Pakistan now travel to Potchefstroom today (Wednesday) after a five-day stay in Pretoria, where they won both warm-up games.

Pakistan who are placed in Group C,play Scotland in their opening ICC U19 Cricket World Cup match on Sunday,19 January.

Their second match is against Zimbabwe on Wednesday, 22 January, followed by the third and final group match against Bangladesh on Friday, 24 January. All three games will be played in Potchefstroom.

Pakistan ICC U19 Cricket World Cup squad: Rohail Nazir (captain and wicketkeeper), Abbas Afridi (Peshawar), Abdul Wahid Bangalzai (Quetta), Amir Ali (Larkana), Amir Khan (Peshawar), Arish Ali Khan (Karachi), Fahad Munir (Lahore),Haider Ali (vice-captain), Qasim Akram (Lahore), Mohammad Haris (Peshawar),Mohammad Huraira (Sialkot), Mohammad Irfan Khan (Lahore),Mohammad Shehzad (Multan), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (North Waziristan), Tahir Hussain (Multan)

Team management: Ijaz Ahmed (head coach-cum-manager), Rao Iftikhar Anjum (bowling coach), Abdul Majeed (assistant coach), Saboor Ahmad (trainer), Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rasul (physiotherapist), Usman Hashmi (analyst), Emmad Ahmed Hameed (media manager) and Col (retd) Usman Riffat Anwari (security manager).