Dubai : Three-time champion India and New Zealand have been aiming to take the top two positions in Group D at the expense of Ireland and Nepal in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 .
The biennial 16-nation tournament features nine Test-playing nations and seven Associate and Affiliate Members – Afghanistan, Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Nepal, Ireland and Scotland.
Teams have been divided into four groups with the top two in each advancing to the Super League quarter-finals and the other two qualifying for the Plate Championships.
India, coached by batting great Rahul Dravid, features high among the top contenders to bag the trophy which it has previously won in 2000, 2008 and 2012. India failed to defend the title two years ago in the United Arab Emirates after England stunned it in the quarter-finals.
India arrived in Bangladesh with a power-packed batting line-up that includes Sarfaraz Khan, one of the country’s brightest young batsmen.
Sarfaraz Khan along with Ricky Bhui and Avesh Khan will make their second appearance in the premier age-group tournament, having also participated in 2014. Another batsman that will be noticed in Bangladesh is Armaan Jaffer.
Under Dravid’s guidance, India’s teenagers have won a tri-series in Sri Lanka before Christmas last year that also featured England and defeated both Afghanistan and Bangladesh at home in November.
Expressing his views on the tournament, Dravid said, “Ours is a decent side with a lot of promising players. The conditions in Bangladesh will be quite similar to what the boys have grown up on in India, so that should be beneficial to the side.”
India will be captained by Ishan Kishan, a left-handed batsman and wicketkeeper, who hails from World Cup-winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s home state of Jharkhand.
New Zealand captain Josh Finnie also featured in the 2014 event where his side finished 10th, but he is confident of a better show this time.
New Zealand warmed up for the tournament by playing a tri-series against Australia and Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. New Zealand won two matches and lost once each to Australia and Pakistan.
“The experience of playing in Dubai and being part of the tournament will hopefully help out in this month’s campaign,” Finnie said. “The players we’re taking over are a really talented group, including a couple of guys who have played first-class cricket.”
“The Black Caps’ brand of cricket has been a great example of playing with positive intent and representing New Zealand in the best possible way,” said Finnie. “I think all cricketers growing up in New Zealand have seen that and we’ll endeavor to make that a big part of our game as well, “he added.
Nepal, which last played in the ICC U19 World Cup in 2012, returns to the event by winning the qualifying tournament in Kuala Lumpur. As many as 12 players who helped Nepal qualify are part of the squad that will play in Bangladesh.
Skipper Raju Rijal said having the same set of players will benefit his team.
“But the World Cup will be different from the qualifiers. We have to improve in every aspect of the game if we are to beat other teams in the tournament.”
Nepal will need to finish among the top two in the Group to have a chance to emulate its eighth-place finish in 2000.
Ireland will take part in its eighth ICC U19 Cricket World Cup after missing out two years ago.
India – Ishan Kishan (capt.), Rishabh Pant (vice-capt), Khaleel Ahmed, Zeeshan Ansari, Rahul Batham, Ricky Bhui, Mayank Dagar, Armaan Jaffer, Sarfaraz Khan, Amandeep Khare, Avesh Khan, Mahipal Lomror, Shubham Mavi, Anmolpreet Singh, Washington Sundar.
Coach – Rahul Dravid
New Zealand – Josh Finnie (capt.), Finnley Allen, Josh Clarkson, Zak Gibson, Christian Leopard, Felix Murray, Aniket Parikh, Dale Phillips, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Talor Scott, Ben Sears, Nathan Smith, Daniel Stanley, Ross ter Braak
Coach – Bob Carter
Nepal – Raju Rijal (capt.), Dipendra Airee, MD Sunil Dhamala, Himanshu Dutta, Saurabh Khanal, Sushil Kandel, Yogendra Karki, Sandeep Lamichhane, Ishan Pandey, Shankar Rana, Prem Tamang, Arif Sheikh, Sandeep Sunar, Dipesh Shrestha, Rajbir Singh.
Coach – Jagat Tamatta
Ireland – Jack Tector (capt.), Rory Anders, Andrew Austin, Varun Chopra, Adam Dennison, Stephen Doheny, Aaron Gillespie, Josh Little, Gary McClintock, William McClintock, Tom Stanton, Harry Tector, Fiachra Tucker, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White.
Coach – Ryan Eagleson. (ANI)