Three-time Under-19 World Cup winners, India will open their 2018 World Cup campaign against Australia on January 14 at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. Both the teams have been drawn in Group B alongside Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea.
The 16-team tournament will be held across seven venues in four cities with defending champions West Indies taking on host New Zealand in the tournament-opener on January 13 at Tauranga. The opening day of the tournament will also see Pakistan playing Afghanistan in Whangarei, Bangladesh locking horns against Namibia in Christchurch and Zimbabwe going up against Papua New Guinea in Queenstown. Both the semifinals will take place at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, on January 29 and 30 before the final takes place on February 3.
“The ICC U-19 World Cup plays an important role in the progression of young talent onto the global stage. The list of past and current players who had their first taste of a major event at this tournament is a long one and I have no doubt we’ll be witnessing some of tomorrow’s stars in New Zealand next year,” ICC Head of Events, Chris Tetley, said.
Prior to the tournament, all the teams will play a couple of warm-up matches each, from January 8 to 11. The 16 teams have divided into four groups. All the 10 Test-playing nations (before the inclusion of Afghanistan and Ireland) were given a direct entry into the tournament while Namibia, who were the best-performing Associate nation from the last edition of the tournament in 2016, also secured a direct qualification. The five others are the regional qualifiers – Kenya (Africa), Papua New Guinea (East Asia Pacific), Afghanistan (Asia), Ireland (Europe) and Canada (Americas).
Meanwhile, entries have been kept free for the tournament which has given players Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson.
“This will be the most accessible international event ever staged throughout New Zealand, with free entry to all games, so we look forward to opening the gates to our match venues in a little under five months’ time,” Tournament Director Brendan Bourke said.
Here are the four groups:
Group A: West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya.
Group B: India, Australia, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea.
Group C: England, Bangladesh, Canada, Namibia.
Group D: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Ireland.