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U-19 WC cricket kicks off today

Published : 18 Jan 2024 10:00 PM | Updated : 18 Jan 2024 10:00 PM

Many dreams will take flight and futures will be shaped when the Under-19 World Cup begins in Bloemfontein with the Ireland-USA match on Friday as rival teams are looking to halt the dominance of reigning champions Bangladesh and record five-time champions India. The second match of the day will be in Potchefstroom as hosts South Africa will take on West Indies.  

This is the 15th edition of the ICC Men's Under-19 Cricket World Cup, with the competition taking place every two years. The 2024 tournament is being held in South Africa with 16 teams facing off in the 50-over one-day international format.

The legacy of the Under-19 World Cup as a breeding ground for future cricketing stars is well established. At the world level also, the tournament has produced players who went on to become legends of the game. 

Shining as winners of the ACC U19 Asia Cup, Bangladesh will be looking to carry forward their momentum into the tournament. They'll look to continue a good run for the nation at U19 events, having reached the quarterfinals twice, making the semi-finals once, and securing the trophy once in the last four editions.

The pinnacle of their success came in the 2020 edition in South Africa, when they secured their maiden U19 World Cup, the first-ever ICC trophy won by Bangladesh, defeating India in a thrilling final.

In the upcoming tournament, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of Mahfuzur Rahman Rabby and his teammates to further the U19 team's commendable journey and build on the positive strides they have made in recent years.

Another left-hand batter and left-arm orthodox all-rounders, Mahfuzur Rahman Rabby has emerged as a standout performer with both bat and ball in the past year. In a total of 20 matches, Rabby showcased his skills by scoring 367 runs and claiming an impressive 32 wickets.

Leading Bangladesh to triumph in the U19 Asia Cup, Rabby not only captained effectively but also ended as the second-highest wicket-taker (9 wickets) for the team.

All eyes again would be on India as well, who will be led by Punjab's Uday Saharan. They begin their campaign against neighbours Bangladesh in Group A on Saturday.

Sixteeen teams are divided into four groups with top three making the Super Sixes where 12 teams will be divided into two pools. The top-two will then make the semi-finals, also slated in Benoni on February 6 and 8.

Australia are the next most successful side in the tournament with three titles in 1988, 2002, and 2010, while Pakistan secured the title in 2004 and 2006.

Bangladesh (2020), South Africa (2014), West Indies (2016), and England (1998) have won the event once.

The players to watch out for are New Zealand's Rahman Hekmat, who idolises Shane Warne and Rashid Khan, Pakistan rising pacer Ubaid Shah, Afghan offspinner Allah Mohammad Ghazanfar and England's Luc Benkenstein.