U-19 WORLD CUP 2006

Nepal have proven in the past that they can beat Test-countries at this level, having overcome Bangladesh, Pakistan and South Africa and just may, with the guidance of their Sri Lankan coach Roy Dias, more than upset the established order. They play with passion and discipline, a formidable combination and if they truly believe in their talents they are capable of advancing very far. In the past, physical preparation was a liability, but they have acclimatised to the local conditions. Dr. Vece Paes, the ACC Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness Consultant who was with the team in the lead-up to the event, reports approvingly of the squad's fitness levels and believes that in this tournament, Nepal are in the best shape they've ever been.

Nepal's captain Kanishka Chaugai lifting the ACC U-19 Cup in November 2005

Irrespective of preparation, however, the tournament will demand lot of players. The schedule is intense, the conditions potentially oppressive. Some can be expected to play full-internationals within the year, and they know that their abilities to prevail at the highest level will be under close scrutiny by their coaches.

What will be noted by many onlookers are the number of cricketers from all over the world who have a sub-continental heritage and the event could well be a fascinating display of how each country's development programs influence the inherent characteristics of the players. Many will be searching for evidence of the truism, that 'you can take the boy out of Asia but cannot take Asia out of the boy'.

What is undoubtedly true is that on Sri Lankan wickets bowlers will be under a little more pressure than batsmen and that the batsmen, in order to succeed against stifling attacks and prime fielding, will need to be agressive and inventive in their strokeplay. It should truly be a fascinating tournament.

India, victorious at the 2005 Afro-Asia U-19 Cup


Pakistan, 2004 U19 World Cup winners

India, thanks to their winning record against Australia at home last year and their victory in the U-19 Afro-Asia Cup last November (much cited by all as a significant staging-post) start as favourites. Pakistan, however are defending champions and their mercurial talents can overwhelm any opposition when the force is with them.

They have warmed-up for this event with a comprehensive series of victories over the West Indies and just may be peaking at the right time. Sri Lanka, of course will have all the advantages of being the hosts and if they play with confidence should have it in them to beat all visitors.

Sri Lanka U-19

It may be Bangladesh, however who have the best chance of securing ultimate victory. They were the in-form team at this level in 2005 winning 13 out of 16 U-19 internationals including victories against Pakistan, Australia, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Bangladesh U-19

They have a number of full internationals in their line-up already and if they just play with the poise, dash and panache that they are capable of, then they have it in them to lift the U-19 World Cup this year.

GROUP A: Bangladesh, Pakistan, New Zealand, Uganda
GROUP B: Australia, South Africa, USA, West Indies
GROUP C: India, Namibia, Scotland, Sri Lanka
GROUP D: England, Ireland, Nepal, Zimbabwe

Further coverage: www.asiancricket.org/cnt_iccu19_06.cfm, http://www.icc-cricket.com/icc/events/u19worldcup/

Filed February 2 2006