The ninth edition of the ACC Under-19 Cup (December 23-31) is expected to produce resounding performances from the rising stars of world cricket in Dubai and Sharjah. Organised by the Asian Cricket Council, this tournament has over the years seen the emergence of several top players. From the first edition that was held 32 years ago in 1989 in Bangladesh, it has always been an intense contest for the title.
India have dominated this tournament lifting the ACC Under-19 Cup seven times and once sharing the title with Pakistan in 2012 in Malaysia following a tied match. The only other nation to have lifted this Cup are Afghanistan in 2017, after beating Pakistan by 185 runs in Malaysia.
This will be the second time after the 2013-14 edition that the UAE will be hosting this 50-over tournament. The ICC Cricket Academy Oval grounds 1 and 2 and Sharjah Cricket Stadium will host the group matches, and the final on December 31 will be held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The five ICC full member nations from Asia are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India. The qualifiers for the event are Kuwait, Nepal, and hosts UAE. Group A is made up of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and the UAE. Group B comprises Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Kuwait.
India will defend their title through a strong squad led by Yash Dhull, who has piled up 302 runs for an average of 75.50 and emerged the leading run-getter in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy this year for Delhi. SK Rasheed, who also produced an impressive show in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy, is the vice-captain. India’s Under-19 team arrived here after receiving a pep talk from India’s limited-overs captain Rohit Sharma at the National Cricket Academy, Bangalore, where the team was undergoing the preparatory camp for this event.
Indian will commence their campaign against the UAE in the opening match at the ICC Academy Oval 1 on Thursday.
The Pakistan team are being led by Qasim Akram, who will be playing in the Under-19 World Cup for the second time. His team’s openers Abdul Wahid Bangalzai and Mohammad Shehzad, as well as middle-order batter Irfan Khan Niazi, have also played in the previous World Cup. Pakistan will take on Afghanistan on the opening day at ICC Academy Oval 2.
The clash between traditional rivals India and Pakistan will be held on Saturday at the ICC Ground 2.
Sri Lanka have an impressive squad and had defeated Under-19 World Cup champions Bangladesh and England at home in the last few months. The team is being led by all-rounder Dunith Wellalage, and they have Chamindu Wickramasinghe, Matheesha Pathirana, Raveen de Silva, and Yasiru Rodigo, all of whom have all played in the Under-19 World Cup before. Sri Lanka start off by taking Kuwait at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on the second day.
Bangladesh, the defending champions of the Under-19 World Cup, is being led by left-arm spinner Rakibul Hasan. He had captained Bangladesh to an under-19 World Cup triumph in the 2020 edition. Bangladesh take on qualifiers Nepal on the opening day at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Afghanistan are led by left-handed top-order batsman Suliman Safi with Ijaz Ahmadzai as his deputy. The squad was picked after 45 players were invited to a one-month training camp. Two of their players who had played in the 2020 ICC Under-19 World Cup are left-arm spinner Noor Ahmad and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Ishaq.
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