ICC U-19 World Cup | India starts firm favourite

By PTI
 

Future stars will get their big stage to shine when the ICC Under-19 World Cup begins here on Friday with record four-time champions India being firm favourites.

The tournament, featuring 16 teams divided into four groups, is being held in the Caribbean for the first time. The top two teams from each group will enter the quarterfinals.

Covid effect

The tournament’s bio-bubble has not been breached yet but the Zimbabwe and Pakistan squads have already been hit by COVID-19. Scotland replaced New Zealand after the 1998 runner-up decided to withdraw due to quarantine restrictions back home.

West Indies takes on Australia while Scotland faces Sri Lanka on Friday. India will begin its campaign against South Africa on Saturday.

Record four-time champion India has arrived here straight from Dubai after winning the Asia Cup. After a hard quarantine of five days, the Yash Dhull-led squad got back to the grind and beat Australia in its warm-up game.

Expectations will be high from opener Harnoor Singh, Delhi batter and skipper Yash, Shaik Rasheed and pacer Rajvardhan Hangargekar who all showed promise in the Asia Cup.

Second best team

Only India has won the tournament more times than Australia’s three. The team is also second in terms of matches won and win percentage. In fact, in 12 appearances, Australia has made it through to at least the semifinals eight times. The last win came back in 2010, by a team featuring Mitchell Marsh, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood.

Bangladesh created history in 2020 and will be aiming for an encore. Prior to 2020, its previous best performance came in 2016 when a team captained by Mehidy Hasan Miraz finished third on home soil. Bangladesh lost heavily to India in the Asia Cup semifinals last month.

Pakistan has reached the tournament final five times, second only to India. The side is coached by former Pakistan batter Ijaz Ahmed.

It has been 24 years since England’s sole victory in the competition, but the team did reach the semifinals on way to a third place finish in 2014.

Lankans on a high

Sri Lanka will be high on confidence having made the Asia Cup final. The team lost in the first round in each of the last two editions, but was a semifinalist in 2016. That squad featured Avishka Fernando, Charith Asalanka and Wanindu Hasaranga.


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