ICC Under-19 World Cup Preview: Kapil Dev wishes good luck

India are coached by batting great Dravid and will be captained by Ishan Kishan, who hails from Jharkhand — the same state as Dhoni.

India's Under-19 coach Rahul Dravid along with team captain Ishan Kishan.   -  PTI

Kapil Dev mentioned the likes of star players Hashim Amla, Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root, who have come through the U-19 World Cup.   -  V. Ganesan

As South Africa launch their title defence against host Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium and England take on Fiji at the M. A. Aziz Stadium on the opening day of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016, India’s 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev and national coaches have come forward to wish good luck to the youngsters who will take part in the tournament which starts in Chittagong on Wednesday.

“Good luck to all the boys participating in the tournament. They can write their own destiny,” Kapil, an ICC Cricket Hall of Famer said.

Three-time champions India will open their campaign against Ireland in Group D on January 28.

“Many Test and one-day teams are going through a transition phase and the U-19 cricket World Cup will enable them to take a look at the young players. We have seen so many young boys become men after this tournament,” Kapil, now one of the most respected commentators, who took 434 and 253 wickets in 131 Tests and 225 One-Day Internationals respectively, said.

Kapil mentioned the likes of star players Hashim Amla, Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root, who have come through the U-19 World Cup.

“They are today the biggest inspiration for young cricketers,” he said.

India to play under Dravid’s watchful eye

The 16-nation tournament features nine Test-playing nations and seven associate and affiliate members —— Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal, Ireland and Scotland. The teams have been divided into four groups and the top two will advance to the Super League quarter-finals with the other two qualifying for the Plate Championships.

India are coached by batting great Rahul Dravid and will be captained by wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan, who hails from Jharkhand — the same state as Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Skipper Kishan, who said he has received captaincy tips from Dhoni and has honed his batting under Dravid’s watchful eye, emphasised that the all-round ability of his side would help win matches. "The strength of my team is that almost every batsman can bowl,” said Kishan. “We have a good pace bowling attack, a good fielding unit, and our batting goes till number eight. This will help us in the matches.”

Chance of Indo-Pak semi-final

Pakistan, the only nation to win back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2006, will need to survive a tough Group B, which includes Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Canada, if it is to make its second final in a row.

“We are confident,” said Pakistan captain Gohar Hafeez. “The other teams are good, but we will accept the challenge and beat them all. We are here to win the World Cup.”

 

If both India and Pakistan top their respective groups and also win their quarter-final matches, they will set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash in Mirpur on February 11. Pace bowling great and Pakistan’s coach Waqar Younis urged players to enjoy the tournament and serve as ambassadors of their respective nations.

“The U-19 World Cup is a platform for youngsters to showcase their talent in the big arena. In the modern cricket era, the tournament has gained in stature. Thanks to the ICC’s endeavours, it has emerged as a dream event with every young cricketer aspiring to be a part of it,” Younis, who is an ICC Cricket Hall of Famer, said.

Hosts Bangladesh fancy their chances

Bangladesh will fancy their chances on home turf with a side that boasts of five players who also took part in the previous edition in the UAE in 2014. Mehidy Hassan Miraz will captain the hosts for the second time, having led the team in UAE when he was just 16.

“Of course, we want to become world champion, but you can only think of playing the quarter-final, semi-final and final if you make it to the second round,” said Mehidy, who dismissed suggestions that his team will be under pressure at home. “On the contrary, I think we will be even more determined and charged up because this is rare chance to play a world event in front of family and friends.”

Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusinghe said he still remembered his time at the inaugural U-19 World Cup in 1988.

“The U-19 Cricket World Cup is a breeding ground for budding cricketers. Memories of 1988 are still fresh in my mind. So many great cricketers came though from that World Cup like Brian Lara, Inzamam-ul-Haq and our own Sanath Jayasuriya,” the former Sri Lanka Test player said.

Afghans dreaming big

The seven non-Test-playing nations are determined to stand up and be counted as well, especially fast-improving Afghanistan, which finished seventh two years ago and is aiming to progress even further in the tournament.

“We dream of winning the title,” said Afghan captain Ihsanullah Janat, adding his team was inspired by the senior team which qualified for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand for the first time.

SA upbeat despite recent defeats

South Africa will defend the title under Tony de Zorzi, hoping to repeat their UAE performance where they defeated Pakistan in the final for two runners-up spots in 2002 and 2008. De Zorzi played down his team’s recent defeats against Bangladesh, saying he now knows what to expect from the hosts. “It works both ways,” he said. “If they know a lot about us, we also know a lot about them. On the day, it will just come down to who wants it more.”

SL aim to top group

Sri Lanka, who defeated Pakistan at home last year, aim to top the group with skipper Charith Asalanka promising bright cricket from his side in Bangladesh. “Every team’s target is to win the World Cup and it is my responsibility to get the job done,” said Asalanka, a left-handed batsman like his hero Kumar Sangakkara. “We beat Pakistan at home and that has given us a lot of confidence.”

England seek to end 18-year drought

England will aim to end an 18-year drought after winning their only title way back in 1998. They will be led by Brad Taylor. England, who reached the semi-finals two years ago, are favourites to win Group C against the West Indies, Zimbabwe and first-timer Fiji.

Skipper Taylor said the experience of playing in a tri-series in Sri Lanka before Christmas last year, which was won by India, will help his side adjust quickly to conditions in Bangladesh. “We have plenty of options for sub-continent pitches in our team and we have experience of playing in the sub-continent,” he said. “The bowlers and batsmen know how to adjust to the conditions.”

The Super League quarter-finals will be played between February 5 to 8, the semi-finals on February 9 and 11 and the final in Mirpur on February 14. The semi-finals and the final will have reserve days.

 

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson wished the junior Kiwi team good luck and said he would be watching their performance closely.

“On behalf of the BlackCaps, I want to wish good luck to the New Zealand side at the Under-19 World Cup. Make sure you enjoy the experience and use what is a great opportunity to test yourself against the best in the world,” Hesson said.

Veteran coach Dav Whatmore, who is currently with Zimbabwe, said the tournament could launch several promising careers.

“Good luck boys! This could be the beginning of a great career. A lot of top cricketers have come through the U-19 World Cup,” Whatmore said.

Scotland’s coach Grant Bradburn also wished the participants well.

“All the very best to all the players and teams competing at this year’s U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh. May you all realise your dreams and skills, and step forward onto the world stage during this amazing tournament,” Bradburn said.

Groups:

Group A: South Africa, Bangladesh, Scotland, Namibia

Group B: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Canada

Group C: England, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Fiji

Group D: India, New Zealand, Nepal, Ireland.

Super League (quarter-finals, February 5-8):

A1 v D2; D1 v A2; C1 v B2; B1 v C2

Plate Championship (quarter-finals, February 4-5):

A3 v D4; D3 v A4; B3 v C4; C3 v B4

Schedule:

27 Jan – South Africa v Bangladesh, Chittagong

27 Jan – England v Fiji, Chittagong

28 Jan – Ireland v India, Mirpur

28 Jan – New Zealand v Nepal, Fatullah

28 Jan – Pakistan v Afghanistan, Sylhet

28 Jan – Sri Lanka v Canada, Sylhet

29 Jan – Zimbabwe v Fiji, Chittagong

29 Jan – England v West Indies, Chittagong

29 Jan – Scotland v Namibia, Cox's Bazar

30 Jan – India v New Zealand, Mirpur

30 Jan – Ireland v Nepal, Fatullah

30 Jan – Sri Lanka v Afghanistan, Sylhet

30 Jan – Pakistan v Canada, Sylhet

31 Jan – West Indies v Fiji, Chittagong

31 Jan – England v Zimbabwe, Chittagong

31 Jan – Bangladesh v Scotland, Cox's Bazar

31 Jan – South Africa v Namibia, Cox's Bazar

1 Feb – India v Nepal, Mirpur

1 Feb – Ireland v New Zealand, Fatullah

1 Feb – Afghanistan v Canada, Sylhet

2 Feb – West Indies v Zimbabwe, Chittagong

2 Feb – Bangladesh v Namibia, Cox's Bazar

2 Feb – South Africa v Scotland, Cox's Bazar

3 Feb – Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Mirpur