Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, playing on the first day, may well play on the last day of the competition too, in the Final. They have players of flair and dynamism who are desperate to get back to the U-19 Elite Level where they feel they belong. Thing is, even if the other teams barring Bhutan in the competition: Brunei, China, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar haven't yet tasted Elite Level cricket they are credible aspirants for a place in the semi-finals at least. At which point, anything could happen.

Bhutan, captained by Jigme Singye have a number of age-group stalwarts in their ranks who have been in many an ACC Challenge Final in the past few years. They have increasing game-sense and are real contenders for another Final appearance. China, again with a number of players who have mixed it up with the best at the Guangzhou Asian Games will take wickets and field well. They may be as yet a little too conservative in batting for the limited-overs scenario but in captain Zhang Yufei, they have a hard-hitting all-rounder who can win a match by himself. Iran are going to be feisty. They play with great enthusiasm and skill one moment, all the more laudable for the harsh conditions in which they play at home, and with absolute rusticity the next. On their day they could upset anybody.

The Maldives U-19s arrive on the crest of a national upsurge in cricket following the senior team's epochal ACC Trophy Challenge victory at the end of 2010 and they too have a number of seasoned youth cricketers who could just be good enough to get past the semi-final stages. Brunei and Myanmar may be relative minnows at this level but Myanmar in particular have a passion to succeed and make use of every possible opportunity given to them which could see them snatch at least a win or two.

Umpires take the field in the golden light of Penang

The teams are in the lush conditions of Penang and Kuala Lumpur, turf itself almost a foreign country to all of them. The competition will reward accurate bowlers and batters who play straight. Fitness in the fluid-sapping humidity and heavy outfields will play a significant part.

For the finalists, a berth in the 2013 U-19 Elite Cup and a foot on the ladder to ICC U/19 World Cup 2014 awaits. It would be a great legacy to leave behind for the next generation to follow.

Kuala Lumpur Penang
Saudi Arabia Bhutan
Kuwait China
Maldives Myanmar
Brunei Iran

Schedule and Tournament Details

Filed July 1st, 2011