Dhaka, Jan 12 (UNB) - The world cricket fraternity is looking forward to the future stars who will be on view over the next 22 days as the 16-team ICC U19 Cricket World Cup kicks off in New Zealand on Saturday.
Defending champions West Indies will face hosts New Zealand in a day-night fixture beginning at 6am (Bangladesh time) in Tauranga while Bangladesh will be seen in action on the opening day taking on Namibia at 3:30am (Bangladesh time) in Christchurch.
In other matches on the opening day, two-times champions Pakistan will take on dark horses Afghanistan in Whangarei while Papua New Guinea play against Zimbabwe in Christchurch. Both the matches will begin at 3:30am (Bangladesh time).
The buzz around the event has grown over the past few weeks and the teams have warmed up for the event with some rigorous practice sessions and warm-up matches in Christchurch.
Both Bangladesh and Namibia will be looking to build on their achievements at the U19 CWC 2016 when player of the tournament Mehidy Hasan Miraz-led hosts Bangladesh were placed third and Namibia finished seventh. Namibia have come into this edition tournament having qualified by virtue of being the top placed associate two years ago in 2016.
Both sides are coming into the tournament on the back of defeats in their warm-up fixtures with Bangladesh falling to a 56-run defeat at the hands of Afghanistan and Namibia beaten by 190 runs by Pakistan.
Bangladesh won each of the five encounters between the sides at the U19 Cricket World Cup, including the last tournament in 2016 where Namibia were dismissed for just 65 and the hosts comfortably chased their target in 16 overs for an eight-wicket victory.
Bangladesh captain Afif Hossain will be looking to recreate his Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) heroics. The all-rounder burst onto the scene during the BPL 2017 at the age of 17 and became the youngest player to take a T20 five-for – his 5/21 for Rajshahi Kings against Chittagong Vikings. Bangladesh U19s coach Damien Wright has tipped Afif as possibly the best left-hander at the tournament.
Beyond the tournament, Bangladesh reached the semifinal of the U19 Asia Cup in November, only narrowly missing out on a spot in the final by two runs (DLS Method) to Pakistan. Namibia contested a tri-series with South Africa and England in December but were defeated in all four of their fixtures, so will be hoping to turn things around at U19CWC.
Namibia will be led by Lohan Louwrens, who was the top run-scorer for the side in the last edition of the tournament with 163 runs at an average of 40.75. The 18-year-old has already made his debut for the senior side, turning out against the UAE in the ICC WCL Championship and ICC Intercontinental Cup in September 2017.
This is the 11th appearance at the ICC U19 CWC for Bangladesh, who made their tournament debut 20 years ago in South Africa. Enamul Haque holds the tournament record for the most wickets in a single edition of the competition, having taken 22 wickets on home soil in 2004. Bangladesh also produced the top run scorer in 2012 (Anumal Haque, 365 runs) and 2014 (Shadman Islam, 406 runs). They hosted the last edition, in which they achieved their best result of third place.
Bangladesh U19 Squad: Saif Hassan (captain), Afif Hossain, Aminul Islam, Hasan Mahmud, Mahidul Islam Ankon, Mohammad Naim, Mohammad Rakib, Nayeem Hasan, Pinak Ghosh, Qazi Onik, Robiul Hoque, Roni Hossen, Shakil Hossain, Tipu Sultan and Towhid Hridoy.
Namibia U19 Squad: Lohan Louwrens (captain), Henry Brink, Petrus Burger, Jan-Izak de Villiers, Shaun Fouche, Jurgen Linde, Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Gerhard Lottering, Erich van Mollendorf, Dewald Nell, Mauritius Ngupita, Ben Shikongo, Floris Steenkamp, Ramon Wilmot, Eben van Wyk