As defending champions and with home advantage, Nepal undoubtedly start as favourites to win the 2005 ACC U-19 Cup. Nepal’s captain Kanishka Chaugai (already a player for the senior side) said that “we have a good balanced side and the boys are confident of doing well.”

Coached by Roy Dias and the recipients of some concerted preparation at a special camp in the month prior to the tournament’s start, Nepal are indeed favoured by all observers to prevail. But it won’t necessarily be their name on the cup at the end. Afghanistan as coached by the irrepressible Taj Malik (“we will win”, he says) are strong contenders too.

With their complement of pace-bowling, hard-hitting all-rounders, Afghanistan can be expected to show strongly and no team will fancy playing them. They would have won the ACC U-15 Cup in April against Nepal had their powerful batsmen just kept the ball on the ground.

However, tournaments such as these are always notable for the discovery of emerging players and the performances Bahrain and Kuwait put up in the U-17 Cup in August demonstrated some well-coached talent. These countries are not to be taken lightly. Malaysia are also contenders.

With one-day cricket being what it is and with the stakes so high in this tournament it will be ultimately the team that shows the most discipline and flair that will win. The winner of the tournament qualifies for the 2006 U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka next February.