|Ahmed Shahzad of Pakistan and Dinesh Chandimal of Sri Lanka at the media conference while Geoff Allardice looks on. — Courtesy ICC|
The ICC Under 19 World Cup cricket tournament plays a pivotal role in developing future international players. The event which started in 1988 has produced players like Brian Lara, Inzamaul Haq and Graeme Smith in the past. It is the platform which provides opportunity to the youngsters to learn the tricks of the trade.
India will open its title defence against Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on February 15, 2014. The event will be staged across seven venues in the UAE from February 14 to March 1.
In the 16-day tournament, 48 matches will be played across seven venues, which are: Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi; Abu Dhabi Oval 1; Abu Dhabi Oval 2; Sharjah Cricket Stadium; Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai Sports City; ICC Academy Oval 1, Dubai, and ICC Academy Oval 2, Dubai.
The format of the competition is such that the 16 teams have been divided into four groups, with the top two teams progressing to the Super League quarter-finals, while the two bottom teams from each group qualify for the Plate Championship quarter-finals.
ICC General Manager – Cricket, Geoff Allardice, while announcing the groups and fixtures in Dubai, said: “The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is a hugely important event for international teams and for the ICC, as it showcases the future stars of international cricket.
“The event gives the world’s best young cricketers a chance to test their skills in a truly global event.
“Teams will need to be at their best every day if they want to win the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. We expect to see some spectacular cricket.”
“This is the best chance for the stars of the future to learn many things. There are so many things to learn other than cricket.
“The game is going through crucial period as it is facing myriad of problems. Corruption is one of them and we want to nip the evil in the bud. We can teach these players how to avoid such situation and prevent the gentleman’s game from being polluted.
“These players can learn a lot by getting together and exchange of ideas will do a lot of good to the game.” UAE captain Dan Dsouza said: “We are looking forward to this tournament and since we know the conditions well, we hope to perform better in our own backyard.
“UAE have got a wonderful coach in Aaqib Javed as he brings loads of international experience with him. He has brought about a huge change in the attitude of the players. His presence has made a big difference.”
Pakistan Under 19 captain Sami Aslam said: “It is a great opportunity for young people like us to express ourselves. “This will be a great learning curve for the boys and we want to make full use of it. We are confident of good performance going into the tournament.
“We have just won a tri-series in the England and boys are raring to go for this event.”
Pakistani international Ahmed Shahzad, a product of the Under 19 tournament, said: “This is the stage which is must for every player to go through.
“There are ups and downs and youngsters learn a lot in the process. I have gone through all this which has helped to grow as a player.
“My advice to the upcoming players is to get involved in the game and enjoy it. It is the only way to become a better player.”
Sri Lanka Twenty20 captain Dinesh Chandimal who was part of Sri Lanka Under 19 squad, said: “The ICC Under 19 World Cup is a stepping stone to reach the international stage.
“We have made many friends during the 2008 event which was held in Malaysia. It has helped me a lot to reach this stage.”
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