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Dubai, Oct 26 (Canadian-Media): South Africa, hosts in 1998 and champions in 2014, play their opening match at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on 17 January. The United Arab Emirates and Canada are the other teams they will have to contend with in Group D of the 16-team tournament, the final of which is scheduled for 9 February.
Image: ICC website
In other matches slated over the first few days, New Zealand take on Japan who will be making their debut in an ICC global event at the North West University Oval In Potchefstroom on 18 January while defending champions India play Sri Lanka at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on 19 January. Nigeria, who are also making their ICC event debut will face Australia in Kimberley on 20 Jan for their opening game.
Benoni and Kimberley are the other host cities for the 13th edition of the tournament, being played as per the format used in previous editions, with the second phase dividing the teams into Super League and Plate tournaments. The top two teams from each of the four groups advance to the Super League while the remaining teams feature in the Plate championship.
The JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom will be a key venue as it hosts two Super League quarterfinals, both semi-finals and the final.
The top 11 full Members in the last edition in New Zealand and the five regional champions, who have qualified for the event, will also play warm-up matches from 12-15 January in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Nigeria (Africa) also make an appearance for the first time along with Japan (East Asia Pacific). Nigeria (Africa) and Japan (East Asia Pacific) are joined by other regional qualifiers Canada (Americas), United Arab Emirates (Asia) and Scotland (Europe).
ICC Head of Events Chris Tetley: “The U19 Cricket World Cup is a very important event in our calendar as it brings together the world’s most promising young players in a major ICC tournament, giving them the experience of competing on the global stage.
“We have some excellent venues for this tournament, and we are offering free entry to all matches giving cricket fans in South Africa the opportunity to watch the next generation of superstars. I wish all the teams the very best in their preparations for the tournament and to Cricket South Africa in organising the event.”
Tournament Director Sivuyile Mqingwana: “CSA is delighted to be hosting this prestigious event that further nurtures the stars of tomorrow. We look forward to hosting fans and visitors from all over the world and hope our cricketing guests and other sports tourists will enjoy both world-class cricket action, as well as the great treasures that ‘Mzansi’ has to offer.
“This ICC U19 cricket showpiece affords our country’s cricket community the opportunity to watch the world’s best young players up close and personal.”
Some of the world’s best players have showcased their talent at previous editions of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup including top-ranked Test batsman Steve Smith, top-ranked ODI and T20I batsman Virat Kohli, England Test captain Joe Root andNew Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
South Africa have seen several top players like Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Dean Elgar, Wayne Parnell, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada make it big in international cricket after first catching the eye during U19 World Cups.
Other players to have featured in past editions include Brian Lara (West Indies), Michael Atherton (England), Michael Clarke (Australia), Virender Sehwag (India) Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pakistan) and Rashid Khan (Afghanistan).
India have won the title four times, Australia have won three times, Pakistan have won it twice while England, South Africa and the West Indies have won once each.
Group A: India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Japan
Group B: Australia, England, West Indies, Nigeria
Group C: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Scotland
Group D: Afghanistan, South Africa, UAE, Canada