Pakistan to send U19 team on tour of Bangladesh in April
No other Full Member has sent an age-group team on tour since the start of the pandemic last year
Pakistan will become the first country to resume age-group level tours since the start of the pandemic. The Under-19 team will tour Bangladesh next month for a series of five one-day matches and a four-day game starting from April 19 in Sylhet.
Every traveling member will be vaccinated beforehand and the tour will have in place similar protocols as for the senior teams. The team and its management will be tested for Covid-19 before entering the camp and, after the return of negative tests, members will be allowed to move into a biosecure bubble, for which the players will convene in Lahore.
The tour has been arranged to prepare the players for the next ICC Under-19 World Cup, scheduled to take place in the West Indies next year. Prior to their departure, the team will play two 50-over practice matches and a three-day match during a 10-day long camp that will run from April 3 in Lahore.
Six players from the group that played the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in 2020 were retained for this tour: Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, Fahad Munir, , Mohammad Irfan Niazi, Mohammad Shehzad, and Tahir Hussain. As per the ICC age criteria for the upcoming Under-19 World Cup, only players born on or after 1 September 2002 will be eligible.
Pakistan named six batsmen including , the leading run-getter with 524 runs at 65.50 last year in the national Under-19 one-day tournament. Several of the players have already begun to make waves on the domestic circuit in Pakistan; opener represented Balochistan in the last domestic season, while batting allrounder Akram was one of the star performers for Central Punjab, and subsequently selected by Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League.
"The tour provides a wonderful grooming opportunity for the players against one of the most formidable U-19 sides at present, which won the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup last year," Pakistan's U-19 head coach, Ijaz Ahmed, said. "We have a talented bunch of players and a number of them have proven their worth already on the domestic circuit in the recently concluded season.
"The squad also includes players who represented Pakistan Under-19s in the World Cup; the tour will help further develop the skills of these players as they are our future. The tour will be a challenging one for us and one that will stand these players in good stead in this developmental stage of their careers. The series will also help us identify the potential players that we will field in next year's World Cup in the West Indies."
Pakistan U19 squad: Abbas Ali, Abdul Faseeh, Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, Fahad Munir, Maaz Sadaqat, Mohammad Irfan Niazi, Mohammad Shehzad, Qasim Akram and Rizwan Mehmood, Haseebullah and Raza-ul-Mustafa, Aaliyan Mehmood, Ali Asfand, Arham Nawab, Faisal Akram, Ahmed Khan, Asim Ali, Muneeb Wasif, Tahir Hussain, Zeeshan Zameer
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent