ICC U-19 World Cup 2024: The Future is Here


Over the next 24 days, spread across 41 ODIs, the cricket world will get a glimpse of what’s in store for the future. 16 teams from across the globe have assembled in South Africa for the 15th edition of the ICC U-19 World Cup hoping to unearth future superstars and in the process, claiming the junior world title.

The tournament has a rich history of serving as the first major global platform for the rising stars who went on to carve out a storied professional career at the senior level. South Africa are playing host to the event for the third time in their history – second time in four years with this year’s edition being moved out from Sri Lanka due to off-field reasons.

Ahead of the marquee event, here’s a look at the 16 participants and how strong is their claim

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Group A: India, Bangladesh, Ireland, United States

India are the most successful team in the competition’s history having lifted the trophy five times. The defending champions again present a strong claim to winning the title led by captain Uday Saharan. Their challenge will be bested by Bangladesh, a team that beat them in South Africa four years back to win the U19 World Cup – their first-ever ICC trophy at any level. The team will be aiming to become the second team in history to defend the title riding on the shoulders of a solid batting line-up and an incisive bowling attack.

Bangladesh, in fact, have been quite consistent, having made the knockouts in the previous four editions. And they gave an indication of their preparations and talent at disposal by winning the ACC U-19 Asia Cup last year beating Pakistan in the final after having knocked out India in the semis.

Ireland finished 10th in the previous edition of the tournament which is their joint-best in the history of the tourney. A majority of the squad members are familiar with the South African conditions which will come in handy. However, against the likes of India and Bangladesh, the Philippe le Roux-led side will have to step up their game by several notches.

USA made the cut for the competition through the Americas Qualifier as they edged past Canada on the basis of a superior net run rate. During the tournament, they raised eyebrows by racking up a mammoth total of 515 against Argentina before recording a 450-run win.

Group B: South Africa, England, West Indies, Scotland

Hosts South Africa will be hoping to make the most out of home conditions and replicate the success of the class of 2014 that gave them their first-ever U19 world title triumph. In 2023, South Africa toured Bangladesh for a five-match series which they lost 2-3. They played host to a tri-nation tournament ahead of the World Cup in Dec-Jan also featuring India and Afghanistan. However, their performance was quite underwhelming as in four games, they lost thrice and won once. Juan James, who was named captain after David Teeger was relieved of the duties, will hope his boys step up when it matters the most.

England, the runners-up for the last edition, travelled to Australia and India in 2023 for various assignments. They hosted Australia and Ireland as well as part and churned out impressive performances hoping to go a step further this time around and end their title drought. Incidentally, it was in South Africa in 1998 that England won their only U19 World Cup trophy and the Ben McKinney-led team will be itching to bring the silverware home.

West Indies join South Africa and England as the third previous world champions but their performances of the past two editions have been quite forgettable. They won their first-ever title in 2016, beating a red-hot India in the final. However, in the three editions that followed, twice West Indies have failed to progress beyond the group stage and once they have managed a quarter-final appearance. They toured Sri Lanka last year and lost a three-match ODI series 1-2.

Scotland come into the tournament after topping the ICC U19 men’s World Cup Europe Qualifier last year. Despite their impressive performance in the qualifier, Scotland will do well to remember how they finished a lowly 14th out of 16 teams at the 2022 U19 World Cup in West Indies, failing to win a single group match. Not that their task has gotten any easier this time around with three former champions for the company in the group.

Group C: Australia, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Namibia

Three-time U19 world champions Australia headline this group. The team won the competition when it was first held in 1988 before repeating the feat in 2002 and 2010. While the senior team continues to win ICC trophies with surreal consistency, the juniors haven’t managed to win it in the previous six attempts. Will they end the drought this time? They surely have done their preparations well hosting England for a three-match series in February 2023 which they won 2-1. They then visited England later in the year and this time, pocketed a five-match series 3-1. At the last World Cup, Australia made it to the semis where they lost to eventual champions India.

1st Test: Australia beat West Indies by 10 wickets

2023 was a busy year for Sri Lanka as they took part in various tournaments including a Tri-Nation Under-19s Tournament in UAE, played hosts to West Indies for a bilateral series, went to Pakistan for another bilateral assignment and took part in the ACC Asia Cup U19 tournament. They haven’t won the U19 World Cup trophy yet and the closest they came to clinching it was in 2000 when they lost to India at home. In the previous edition, they made it to the quarterfinals but lost to Afghanistan and eventually lost to Pakistan in the 5th place playoff.

Previous records indicate Zimbabwe aren’t a match to the top teams at the U-19 World Cup having managed to advance from the group stages only twice in their history. However, they have shocked the traditional powerhouses in the past and will be hoping to create a few upsets in South Africa this time around. Ahead of the tournament, they took on Ireland in a two-match series which ended one-all.

Namibia have continued to show progress. They won the Africa Qualifiers last year to punch their ticket for the competition. They were unbeaten through the competition with just one of their game producing no result thanks to rain. They successfully defended low totals including skittling Tanzania for a record 33 after setting them 140 to win. They will surely be hoping to make an impression in their 10th U-19 World Cup appearance.

Group D: Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Nepal

Pakistan will again enter the tournament as the only team in history to successfully defend an U-19 world title. They have won the competition twice – 2004 and 2006. Thrice they have finished as the runners-up. However, their last appearance in the title clash was way back in 2014 and will be hoping to go all the way this time around. They toured Bangladesh last year for a five-match series, winning it by a handsome margin of 4-1. And then they hosted Sri Lanka for five matches, a series the visitors won 3-2. At the U19 Asia Cup, they were quite impressive, beating the likes of India and Afghanistan but were stunned by UAE in the semi-final.

New Zealand are back in the tournament after skipping the last edition citing COVID-related complications. Once they have made it to the final and thrice into the semi-finals. They qualified for the 2024 event after winning all six matches of the East Asia-Pacific Qualifier.

Afghanistan again start as one of the teams to watch out for. They have made it to the semi-finals of the previous two world cups getting the better of the likes of Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. They nearly made it to the title clash in West Indies but England prevailed in what was an edge-of-the-seat thriller. The team has been preparing well for the competition. They took part in a tri-nation competition in UAE featuring Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and finished runners-up. They participated in the ACC U-19 Asia Cup and then took stock of the South African conditions with another tri-nation tournament in December-January.

Like Afghanistan, Nepal too have been creating ripples with their ever-improving performances. In their previous seven appearances, they have beaten Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand showing they aren’t here just to make up the numbers. They were part of the Asia Cup but lost all three matches. In a warm-up match for the World Cup, Nepal defeated Scotland by 7 wickets.



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