Aayan Khan says 'anything can happen' as UAE face Pakistan in U19 Asia Cup semi-final

National team ease past Japan to set up last-four clash with form team of tournament

UAE's Aayan Khan, second right, celebrates with team-mates during the U19 Asia Cup match against Japan at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai on Wednesday, December 13, 2023. Photo: Asian Cricket Council
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Aayan Khan insists his UAE side can cause another upset in the Under-19 Asia Cup after clinching a semi-final place against Pakistan.

The home team will meet the form side in the competition when the sides meet at the ICC Academy in Dubai on Friday.

Pakistan were irresistible in the pool phase, beating Nepal by seven wickets, India by eight, and Afghanistan by 83 runs.

The UAE went through in second place in the other pool after beating Japan on Wednesday. They were helped on the adjacent field by Bangladesh, who eased to a win against Sri Lanka. UAE had beaten the islanders last time out.

Aayan, the UAE captain, was the player of the match for the second time in the space of three days.

He hit 67 not out in 41 balls to help the national team reach 320-7 in their 50 overs. Dhruv Parashar and Maroof Merchant also hit half centuries.

Koji Abe made Japan’s first half century of the tournament, as they made 213-4 in reply.

Pakistan will represent a tougher challenge than anything the UAE have faced so far in the competition, but Aayan says his side are up for the test.

“They are a strong team, we know that, but anything can happen,” Aayan said.

“We know how good we are because we have also beaten a strong team in our pool. Our level has been high, but Pakistan have been doing well so it will be a nice game.

“We have been working hard and planning with a view to winning that game, Inshallah.”

Pakistan have a formidable batting line up, and will also pose a threat with the ball which the UAE players are not used to facing.

Mohammed Zeeshan is a towering fast bowler who took six wickets in Pakistan’s win over Nepal, then four against India.

Aayan says it will not be easy for the home team batters, but says they remain confident.

“He was there a year ago and I remember that because I hit him for a big six over third man,” Aayan said of the threat posed by Zeeshan.

“He is back again, and clearly improved as well. We see him as a challenge, but they also have four or five other nice fast bowlers who are hard to play on this type of turf.

“But we have been playing here for two or three years. All the team and staff are happy because we have been working for this.

“It is nice that we have beaten a strong team and we are going to the top four in the Asia Cup, which has never happened before [for the UAE].”

Updated: December 13, 2023, 3:44 PM