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06 December 201523:45 By Manoj Narayan

ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016 – the groups and the tournament

16 teams have been divided into four groups, with each group having its own set of challenges, as the stars of tomorrow tussle for glory

ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016 – the groups and the tournament - Cricket News

The ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2016 will begin in Bangladesh on January 22, and go on till February 14.

The ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2016 will begin in Bangladesh on January 22, and go on till February 14. Ahead of a potentially riveting tournament, here is a look at each group, the form of each team going into the tournament, and how the competition works.

Group A

On the face of it, this is South Africa’s group. The defending champion waltzed to the title in 2014, a tournament in which it unearthed potential superstars in Kagiso Rabada, who went on to make waves with the senior team, Aiden Markram and Yaseen Valli. Similar results will be hoped this time around, but it will face a stern challenge from its group mates, with Bangladesh leading the charge. Bangladesh hosted South Africa for seven one-dayers in April 2015, and came out 6-1 winners. Perhaps home advantage played a part in the eventual result, but given that the World Cup will be held in Bangladesh, the home side may well be regarded the favourite to top the group.

The two sides can expect to be pushed to the brim by Scotland, who sealed its spot in Bangladesh when it beat Ireland by 83 runs in Grainville to finish top of the European division on net run-rate. Namibia, the winner of the ICC Africa U-19 Championship, struggled in a tour of Zimbabwe earlier this year, losing a three-match series 2-1, but will be hoping to pull its weight when it matters.

Group B

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the two powerhouses in this group. The two sides will be confident of booking seats for the knockouts, and the tussle will likely come down to which of them can bag the top spot. That said, when Pakistan toured Sri Lanka in October, it was comprehensively beaten 3-0 in a five-match one-day series. Batting was of some concern for Pakistan – the highest score it managed in the series was 175 in washout. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, was equally good with bat and ball - Shammu Ashan is one to watch out for, with an average of 94.50 in three innings, with a century and a half-century. As for its bowling, Charith Asalanka, the offspinner, was the pick of the lot with six wickets in three matches at 9.38.

Afghanistan, who qualified after winning the ACC U-19 Premier League, went winless in the four matches it recently played against India and Bangladesh in Kolkata. But while batting was an issue – it was bowled out for 85 and 99 by Bangladesh – its bowling was more impressive, and it will hope that would be enough to cause enough problems for its opponents. Canada, who qualified over USA and Bermuda from the Americas after going undefeated in four matches, will also be confident of ruffling a few feathers on the big stage.

Group C

England will look to fine-tune its preparations for what is likely to be a tough group when it takes on India and Sri Lanka in a tour of the Island nation in December, ahead of the tournament on January 22. In August, England tussled with Australia in a hard-fought five-match one-day series in England, which ended 2-2. Dan Lawrence, with two centuries in four matches, and Hugh Bernard, with seven wickets in four matches, were its big performers on tour, and more of the same is expected.

It is up to the West Indies, Zimbabwe and Fiji to make it a tough task for England. The West Indies didn’t hit its stride in the Nagico Super50 tournament in January this year, going winless in its three group matches. Zimbabwe tasted success against Namibia, but couldn’t match that on a tour of Bangladesh in November, losing four matches consecutively. Meanwhile, Fiji, who won the EAP U-19 Cricket Trophy to qualify for this tournament, will look to make an impression on a big stage.

Group D

Undoubtedly the ‘Group of Death’ of the tournament, heavyweights such as India and New Zealand all feature in this group, making it a potentially riveting pool. There is no clear favourite here. India finished fifth in the 2014 tournament, and will be looking to regain the trophy it won in 2008 and 2012. Under the probing eyes of Rahul Dravid, the coach, it has prepared well for the tournament – it won a tri-series beating off Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Kolkata in November, and is all set to play England and Sri Lanka in another tri-series in December.

The likes of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Corey Anderson came through the Under-19 ranks for New Zealand, and more of the same is expected from the Kiwis, while Nepal, who beat Ireland by a narrow three wickets in the final of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in October, is more than capable of unsettling the biggies on its day.

Group A: South Africa, Bangladesh, Scotland (Q2), Namibia (Q3)

Group B: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan (Q1), Canada (Q4)
Group C: England, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Fiji (Q5)
Group D: Ireland, India, New Zealand, Nepal (Q6)

How the tournament works

The first round of the tournament is the stage, where each team in a group will play the other teams in its group once. Every group consists of fours teams each. Each victory gains the winning team two points, and after four matches, the top two sides from each group will qualify for the Super League quarterfinals, while the teams finishing third and fourth will play in a Plate Championship quarterfinals.

Super League

The winners of the Super League quarterfinals will qualify for the Super League semifinals, while the losers will contest in the Super League play-off semifinals.

The winners of the Super League semifinals will play the final of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2016, while the losing sides will clash in the final for the third place.

The winners of the Super League play-off semifinals will progress to the play-off final to decide the fifth and sixth placed finishers, while the losers will contest for the seven and eight places against those playing off in the Super League playoff semis loser’s final.

Plate Championship

The winners of the Plate Championship quarterfinals will progress to the Plate Championship semifinals, while the losing sides will clash in the Plate Championship play-off semifinals.

The winners of the Plate Championship semifinals will contest in the Plate Championship Final 2014, which will decide the ninth and tenth place finishers, while the defeated sides will play off in the Plate Semis Losers final for the 11th and 12th place.

The winners of the Plate Championship play-off semifinals will progress to the Plate play-off semis winners Final, for the 13th and14th places, while the losers playing off in the Plate play-off Semis Losers final will contest for the 15th spot.