Karachi: The ongoing High Performance Camp for the U19 players at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre Karachi is focusing on physical fitness, training and match preparation of the teenagers ahead of the upcoming domestic U19 season and the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup.
The World Cup will be played in the West Indies at the start of next year, the camp includes 32 players from all over the country who have gone through a gruelling schedule of early morning training routines, 50-overs and three-day matches, fitness and gym sessions as part of their preparation not only for junior cricket but also for their eventual progress to domestic cricket.
While the camp includes the most promising batters, fast bowlers and wicketkeepers, it is the exciting pack of spinners that have caught the eye of the team management led by former Pakistan Test batter Ijaz Ahmed who has been at the helm of age-group and Shaheens teams’ for the last two years.
Ijaz feels that Pakistan men’s national cricket team is set to benefit a great deal in the next two years through the emergence of young spinners who have progressed at a rapid rate from the U16 stage. Ijaz’s sentiments were echoed by NHPC bowling consultant and former Pakistan Test leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed.
Pakistan U19 Head Coach Ijaz Ahmed: “We have been working hard with these spinners for two years, they graduated from the U16 stage and have been developing brilliantly. The PCB has provided us great support with Mushtaq Ahmed working with the spinners during the training camps that we have arranged over the course of the last 12 to 18 months.
“The ongoing camp in Karachi has given an extended opportunity of further honing the skills of the spinners, at present, we have top quality left-arm spinners, leg-spinners and off-spinners in Ali Asfand, Aaliyan Mehmood, Faisal Akram, Mehran Mumtaz and Zeeshan Ahmed besides all-rounders like Qasim Akram and Fahad Munir who have the talent and temperament of becoming world-class performers by delivering the goods both at the U19 level and as future Pakistan stars.
“I have full confidence in their abilities and I am ready to say with full conviction that these spinners will be ready to serve Pakistan cricket in the next two years, the scarcity of quality spinners will become a thing of the past in the near future.”
NHPC Bowling Consultant Mushtaq Ahmed: ‘’We are very fortunate to have a quality crop of spinners that have immense potential and talent. These players have graduated from the U16s and have made massive improvements in their game both from a technical as well as tactical aspects. As a spin bowling coach, my role is to provide them game awareness, reading pitches, the knowledge about various variations and how to deliver them, field placing as how to psyche out a batter.
“The work that has been done at this High Performance Camp in Karachi is absolutely amazing as the management led by Ijaz Ahmed has given these players as many as 26 matches against quality opposition including Sindh’s first and second XI players.
“This camp and the ones held previously besides the experience of playing tournaments like the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup and the U19 Asia Cup will surely help our young spinners hone their skills quickly which augurs well for our future in the spin bowling department.”
Left-arm-spinner Ali Asfand and left-arm-wrist-spinner Faisal Akram are the two of the most promising spinners in the camp, the two are enjoying putting in the hard yards at the Hanif Mohammad HPC as they aim to make full use of the skills they have learned over the course of the last month and a half.
Left-Arm-Spinner Ali Asfand: “Playing so many matches has been a great help for us as there is nothing like executing the skills you learn in practice in a match scenario. Our coaches have provided us a tremendous opportunity of not only developing our bowling and batting skills but also of improving our fitness ahead of the U19 domestic season and next year’s World Cup.
“My personal aim would be to make maximum use of the camp in the forthcoming season and further develop my bowling skills and serve Pakistan cricket for a long time.”
Left-Arm-Wrist-Spinner Faisal Akram: “We have been here at the camp for more than a month, there has been a real emphasis on our fielding and fitness besides batting and bowling. The matches against Sindh have provided us a great opportunity of learning and overcoming various challenges during a match. We have played against international and seasoned first-class players which has been a great learning curve for us.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed the camp and the hard work we done will surely help us both in our development and our future at the professional stage of the game. At an individual level, I feel a lot more confident of my skills as a left-arm-chinaman bowler and hope to make full use of the coaching and grooming I have received here in the years ahead.”