Six nations are all set to compete in the ICC Under-19 World Cup Asia Qualifier at the Malek Grounds 1 and 2 and Eden Gardens in Ajman.
Hosts UAE, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal and Singapore will contest from February 24 to March 2 for a spot at the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2024 scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka.
All teams have arrived here and have been training at various grounds while also playing warm-up matches.
The first day’s action on February 24 will see hosts UAE taking on Malaysia at Malek Ground 1 while Kuwait will meet Hong Kong at Malek Ground 2. The Nepal-Singapore match will be held at the Eden Gardens.
In the last edition of the Asia Qualifiers, UAE qualified for the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2020 in South Africa. It is now being led by allrounder Aayan Khan, who played a pivotal role in the UAE emerging as the Plate winners in the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2020 through his knock of 93 against the West Indies.
Most players in the UAE squad have been picked based on their performance in UAE’s domestic cricket, with some of them having sparkled in franchise leagues playing alongside top international cricketers.
Nepal is being captained by Dev Khanal, who has the experience of having captained the Nepal Under-19 team during the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup 2021 in Sharjah. With an eye to spot talent for this Asia Qualifiers, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) organized an Under-19 Men’s National tournament from November 23 to December 5, 2022.
Hong Kong has arrived in the UAE for the Asia Qualifiers after a series of warm-up matches in Oman. They have selected a strong team based on certain criteria. Jawaid Iqbal, one of the coaches stated that the squad had been picked based on outstanding performances in domestic cricket. The team is being captained by the strong Kowloon Cricket Club’s Ahan Trivedi.
Kuwait are buoyed by their under-19 cricketers’ impressive performances in recent years. They had played in Division 1 of the ICC Under-19 qualifiers and done well. They have also played in the Under-19 Asia Cup twice. Kuwait Cricket revealed that the average age of the present team was 16.5 years and that such a team has been selected mainly to create a strong foundation for the squad in the coming years. On arrival, they practised at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium and played a practice match too. Jude Saldanha is captaining the team.
Singapore is being led by Jeevan Santhanam, one of their consistent performers. A fine allrounder, he has to his credit many match-winning performances. In the ICC CWC qualifiers in October 2022 Asia Division 2 championship, the team produced a sterling performance to remain undefeated. They are hoping for a repeat show in the UAE. Incidentally, in that tournament, skipper Jeevan Santhanam had emerged as player of the tournament.
Malaysia hosted the ICC Asia Under-19 World Cup qualifiers in 2019. Though they did not produce a strong performance, they have worked hard for this edition. The team is being led by wicketkeeper batsman Karthik Rajaratnam.
The Malaysian Cricket Association had staged a Malaysia Qadrangular T20 series and a 50-over National Team selection matches. A strong squad has been picked from top performances in these matches.
The match officials for this event are Wendell Labrooy Tournament (Referee), Asif Yaqoob (Mentor)& (Umpire), Buddhi Pradhan (Umpire), Shiju Sam Mannil (Umpire), Rahul Asher (Umpire), Vinod Babu (Umpire), Kalidas Viswanadan (Umpire), Tabarak Dar (Umpire), RV Venkatesh (Umpire) and Harikrishnan Pillai (Umpire).
Schedule: (All matches start from 9 am)
Feb 24: UAE vs Malaysia (Malek Ground 1) Kuwait vs Hong Kong (Malek Ground 2) Nepal vs Singapore (Eden Gardens)
Feb 25: Malaysia vs Singapore (Malek Ground 1), Nepal vs Kuwait (Malek Ground 2), Hong Kong vs UAE (Eden Gardens)
Feb 27: Hong Kong vs Nepal (Malek Ground 1), UAE vs Singapore (Malek Ground 2), Kuwait vs Malaysia (Eden Gardens)
Feb 28: UAE vs Kuwait (Malek Ground 1), Malaysia vs Nepal (Malek Ground 2), Singapore vs Hong Kong (Eden Gardens)
Mar 2: Singapore vs Kuwait (Malek Ground 1), Hong Kong vs Malaysia (Malek Ground 2), Nepal vs UAE (Eden Gardens) (ANI)