Stage set for youngsters to flourish
With a promise of providing glimpses of the future cricket stars, the ICC Under-19 World Cup gets underway today with two matches in Guyana, as hosts West Indies take on Australia at Providence Stadium, and Sri Lanka facing Scotland at Everest Cricket Club.
Split into four groups, 16 teams will be fighting for glory in a total of 48 matches over 22 days with the final set to take place at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on February 5.
Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago will be hosting the matches of the 14th edition of the tournament across 10 venues.
Will this edition see a new champion or will Rakibul Hasan's Bangladesh be able to defend their title after being crowned champions for the first time by beating India in Potchefstroom two years ago?
Rakibul, who was part of the champion side and ended as the highest wicket-taker for Bangladesh in that edition, was confident of getting off to a good start when he attended a virtual press conference on Wednesday ahead of the start of the World Cup.
The defending champions' campaign, however, will begin on Sunday when they meet England at the Warner Park in St Kitts.
The tournament will see the top two teams from each of the four groups go through to the Super League stage while the remaining teams will battle it out in the Plate competition.
Ten teams – Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe – were automatic qualifiers for the tournament, by virtue of their finish at the 2020 edition of the tournament.
Trinidad and Tobago will host the Plate competition between 25 and 31 January while the Super League action will commence on 26 January in Antigua and Barbuda.
The two semi-finals will be played on February 1 and 2 at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground and Coolidge Cricket Ground respectively.