Dubai : The 11th edition of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup will be played across four cities in Bangladesh, featuring nine Test-playing nations and seven the Associate and Affiliate members – Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Ireland, Namibia, Nepal and Scotland.
About 18 players will take part in their second edition of the tournament before turning 19, which is a remarkable accomplishment reserved for a select band who display talent beyond their years.
Bangladesh skipper Mehidy Hassan Miraz was confident that his country, which finished ninth in 2014, will be a force to reckon with on home soil.
“The fact that many of us have been in the under-19 team for more than two years means that we are fairly experienced at this level,” the Bangladesh skipper said.
Besides Mehidy, the hosts have four other players with previous experience of having taken part in the sport’s premier age-group tournament. They are Najmul Hossain, Joyraj Sheik, Zakir Hasan and Saeed Sarker.
Defending champion South Africa, England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe will take the field with a fresh set of cricketers, but most of the other teams have players with previous experience in the tournament.
Three-time former champions India has in its ranks Sarfaraz Khan, Ricky Bhui and Avesh Khan, who helped their team finish fifth in the UAE.
Sarfaraz, one of India’s brightest young batsmen who turns out for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, insisted he had an unfinished business at hand in Bangladesh.
“Our hopes of defending the title in 2014 were dashed when we lost to England in the quarter-finals. That really hurts and we are determined to go all the way this time,” the stocky batsman added.
Afghanistan has retained four members of the squad that finished seventh in 2014. They are captain Ihsanullah Janat, Muslim Musa, Waheed Shafaq and Zia-ur-Rehman Akbar.
“It is a big plus to have four players from the last World Cup because they can utilise their experience for the benefit of other players,” said Ihsanullah.
Abraash Khan of Canada, Shimron Hetmyer of the West Indies and New Zealand’s Josh Finnie will return as captains of their respective teams hoping to better the 2014 performances where the West Indies finished sixth, New Zealand 10th and Canada 15th.
“The chance for me to go to two World Cups is obviously pretty special,” said Finnie. “The call up for the last one was unexpected and while I didn’t get much game time, the experience of going over to Dubai and being part of the tournament will hopefully help out in this year’s campaign.”
Namibia’s squad includes two members of their 2014 squad that finished 14th with Zane Green taking over as captain and SJ loftie-Eaton a key member of the side.
Ryan Brown is the only Scotland player making his second appearance in the tournament. He played just one match in 2014 where he took two wickets for 18 runs.
Nepal and Ireland did not qualify in 2014, while Fiji is the only newcomer to the event. (ANI)