Townsville: It will be a test of India`s batting skills against a formidable Pakistani bowling attack when the two arch-rivals lock horns in the quarterfinals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup here on Monday.
Indian colts managed to put their campaign back on track after losing the opening encounter to the West Indies, but their batting has been a big let-down.
Apart from their match against Zimbabwe, where the top-order clicked in unison, India`s batting has been inconsistent with some of the big names like skipper Unmukt Chand and Baba Aprajith failing to deliver the goods.
Chand has amassed 104 runs from his three outings in the tournament so far with 78 against Zimbabwe being the best, while Aprajith has managed a meagre 43 from a similar number of matches.
The only bright spot in India`s top order has been opener Prashant Chopra, who after a poor beginning against the West Indies has come back strongly to score a couple of half-centuries in the following matches.
Vijay Zol and wicketkeeper-batsman Samit Patel have been good with the willow in the middle order, but they definitely need to be better against a potent Pakistani attack.
India, though, can boast of a reliable bowling attack which has been able to deliver with some degree of consistency in the tournament so far.
However, against Pakistan it will be a different ball game altogether with their captain Babar Azam leading from the front.
Azam has accumulated 182 runs from three matches including an unbeaten ton against the Scotland. His only failure with the bat came in Pakistan`s previous match against the New Zealand.
With the past record also not favouring the Indian colts, it will be a tough task for the boys in blue.
India enjoys an overall 9-7 record against Pakistan in Under-19 cricket, but the green shirts have performed better in big and pressure matches, having won five of the six contests in the World Cups.
India`s only victory in the U-19 Cricket World Cup came in 1998 in Durban where they beat Pakistan by five wickets.
However, skipper Chand is confident of a good show against Pakistan in the knock-out match.
"Pakistan will be a challenge but we have worked hard on our skills coming into the tournament and also on the mental side of our game," the Indian skipper said ahead of the all important match.
"We played Pakistan twice in Malaysia in June and learnt a lot from those matches. So, we are confident that we can perform very well not only in the quarter-final but also in the rest of the matches," Chand said.
Pakistan have looked good in the tournament so far with three consecutive wins, the only time they seemed to flounder was against the Kiwis where they lost five wickets while chasing 152 for victory.
"We played India in the Asia Cup in Malaysia before this tournament and we won one match (by one run) while the other game (the final) ended in a tie. There is always a tight contest between us and we are expecting nothing different this time," Azam said.
"Our players are aware of how exciting this is for the supporters of both the teams. They know that there will be millions of fans glued to their screens seeing the action when we meet. The last time we met the games were exciting so we hope that continues," he added.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will play the West Indies in the last quarter-final match at Endeavour Park 1 on Monday.
The winners of India-Pakistan and New Zealand-West Indies matches will play in the second semi-final at Tony Ireland Stadium on Thursday.
India: Unmukt Chand (capt), Akshdeep Nath, Baba Aparajith, Prashant Chopra, Sandipan Das, Harmeet Singh, Akhil Herwadkar, Rush Kalaria, Kamal Passi, Smit Patel (wkt), Ravikant Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Vikas Mishra, Vijay Zol.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Umar Waheed, Azizullah, Ehsan Adil, Faraz Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Nawaz, Saad Ali, Salman Afridi (wkt), Sami Aslam, Shahid Ilyas, Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar, Zia-ul-Haq.