Dubai : Bangladesh are aiming to use home advantage and start their ICC U19 Cricket World Cup on a winning note by beating defending champion South Africa in the tournament opener in Chittagong on January 27.
The Group A fixture in the 16-nation tournament, which features nine Test-playing nations and seven Associate and Affiliate Members – Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal, Ireland and Scotland sets the stage for what promises to be an exciting and competitive event.
According to the format, the top two sides from each of the four groups will progress to the Super League Stage and the bottom two will feature in the Plate Championship.
With Scotland and Namibia the other sides in Group A, a victory for Bangladesh over South Africa will go a long way in helping the host nation top the group and avoid a potential quarter-final clash against a power-packed India coached by batting great Rahul Dravid.
With experience on his side and a recent winning streak against South Africa, both at home and away, Mehidy Hassan Miraz was confident that Bangladesh, which finished ninth in 2014, will be a force to reckon with on home soil.
“South Africa is first up and it is crucial that we make a positive start because then we will have a very good chance of topping the group as we are stronger than both Scotland and Namibia. If we win the group, the pressure will ease a lot,” skipper Miraz said.
Meanwhile, South African skipper Tony de Zorzi also expressed his views on the tournament.
He admitted the task ahead was not easy, but said his team will attempt to justify its status as the defending champion.
“Defending the title will not be an easy task, knowing the amount of talent offered from around the world, but knowing my group of players and their abilities, anything is possible,” de Zorzi said.
“The end-goal would obviously be to defend the World Cup, but as a team we also want to show that we are worthy custodians of this massive honour, and we will do our best to represent our country.”
Scotland and Namibia, meanwhile, are determined to show they will not be pushovers as both aim to make the quarter-finals for the first time.
“Our aim for this World Cup is to finish in the top eight, which means getting out of our group. The lads are in great form coming into the World Cup after a busy summer together. We are full of confidence and have a belief that we can go far in this tournament. We are a closely a knit team which puts us in good stead to go further in the competition,” Scotland’s skipper Neil Flacks said.
Namibia captain Zane Green, who along with team-mate SJ Loftie-Eaton will be taking part in his second World Cup, said the aim was to better his nation’s best finish of 11th in Kuala Lumpur in 2008.
South Africa squad : Tony de Zorzi (capt.), Ziyaad Abrahams, Dean Foxcroft, Dayyaan Galiem, Willie Ludick, Wandile Makwethu, Conner McKerr, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Wiaan Mulder, Luke Philander, Farhaan Sayanvala, Lutho Sipamla, Liam Smith, Kyle Verreynne and Sean Whitehead.
Coach – Laurence Mahatlane
Bangladesh – Mehidy Hassan Miraz (capt.), Jaker Ali Anik,, Saleh Ahmed Shawon Gazi, Mohammed Saif Hassan, Zakir Hasan, Shafiul Hayet, Mehede Hasan, Mohammad Abdul Halim, Joyraj Sheik Imon, Ariful Islam Jony, Sanjit Saha, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Saeed Sarker, Shaif Uddin.
Coach – Mohammad Mizanur Rahman
Scotland – Neil Flack (capt.), Haris Aslam, Ryan Brown, Scott Cameron, Harris Carnegie, Mohammad Azeem Dar, Mohammad Ghaffar, Rory Johnston, Ihtisham Malik, Finlay McCreath, Mitchell Rao, Owais Shah, Simon Whait, Jack Waller, Ben Wilkinson.
Coach – Gordon Drummond and Cedric English
Namibia – Zane Green (capt.), Petrus Burger, Charl Brits, Fritz Coetzee, Niko Davin, Sj Loftie-Eaton, Mushi Honga, Burton Jacobs, Lohan Louwrens, Jurgen Linde, Michael Van Lingen, Chrischen Oliver, Francios Rautenbach, Warren Van Wyk, Eben Van Wyk,
Coach – Rangarirai Manyande. (ANI)