Sons of guns fired up

Usman Qadir, the son of celebrated Pakistani leg-spinner Abdul Qadir, bowls in the nets at training this week.
Usman Qadir, the son of celebrated Pakistani leg-spinner Abdul Qadir, bowls in the nets at training this week. Warren Lynam

REMEMBER the names Usman Qadir and Imam-ul-Haq - it shouldn't be too hard.

When Qadir and ul-Haq take the field today for Pakistan in its Under-19 World Cup opener against Afghanistan at John Blanck Oval, Buderim, they will carry the weight of expectation that comes with bearing a famous name.

Qadir, 19, is the son of legendary leg-spinner Abdul Qadir, and the uncle of 16-year-old ul-Haq is the great Inzamam-ul-Haq - one of the most fluent batsman to have played the game.

Increasing the pressure on the youngsters is the similarities they share with their famous relatives.

Like his father, Qadir is a leg-spinner, and ul-Haq is a stylish higher-order batsman like his uncle.

The duo is obviously responding well to the pressure. Pakistan team manager and former Test batsman Haroon Rashid has singled them out as players to watch in the 50-over tournament.

In warm-up games this week, No.3 ul-Haq followed a 79 against England with 38 not out against Papua New Guinea.

"He's been amongst the runs since he arrived. He's a very stylish batsman," Rashid said.

"He likes to be aggressive. He doesn't want to see the bowlers taking control of things."

Rashid, the former coach of Pakistan's senior side, described Qadir as a hard worker who had acclimatised well to Australian conditions.

"I think he's not taking any pressure from what his father was," he said.

"He's obviously a very young, energetic kid who wants to do very well this weekend and wants to go ahead (in the game) as well."

On the surface, today's clash could not be more lopsided: the tournament's two-time champion - a nation chockfull of cricket heritage - plays a minnow that is yet to earn Test status.

But Rashid said Afghanistan should not be taken lightly, citing the country's recent semi-final appearance at the under-19 Asia Cup in Malaysia as proof of its danger factor.

He also said that as a developing cricket nation, Afghanistan - coached by ex-Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson - was allowed to pick senior players.

In warm-up games this week, Afghanistan beat Ireland by 101 runs and then lost to India by 52 runs.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam said his side deserved to be a tournament favourite.

"I think we are one of the tournament favourites as we bat deep, have a couple of good all-rounders and also possess a few quality fast bowlers and spinners in the side," he said. "Moreover, our recent performance at international level is encouraging."

Topics:  cricket under-19 world cup

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