India, Papua New Guinea to open U-19 World Cup cricket

February 16th, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 16 (IANS) Skipper Virat Kohli is unfazed by expectations back home with India opening their campaign against Papua New Guinea as cricket’s future stars will be unveiled when the Under-19 World Cup kicks off Sunday at Kinrara Oval here. India, winners in 2000 but runner-up last edition in 2006, are clubbed with South Africa, West Indies and Papua New Guinea in Group B.

“I don’t feel the pressure too much from back home. For me it’s a matter of pride to serve my country. Hopes are high and the boys have the talent. I think we can do it,” Kohli said on the eve of the match.

Sixteen teams have been divided into four groups and they will slug it out for the next two weeks for the coveted trophy. After the group competition, the top two teams in each of the four groups will progress to the Super League quarterfinals, while the bottom two from each group qualify for the Plate Championship quarterfinals.

Among other opening day matches, defending champions Pakistan, aiming to secure a hat-trick of wins, will face hosts Malaysia in Group A, Australia squares up against Namibia in Group C and England takes on Ireland in Group D.

Zimbabwe and New Zealand are the other two teams in Group A, Sri Lanka and Nepal make up Group C while Bangladesh and Bermuda are in Group D.

The U-19 World Cup has in the past thrown up exciting talents, providing them the first platform to bloom before getting into the rigours of international cricket.

Inzamam ul Haq, Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh to name a few captured the imagination of cricket lovers with their sterling performances in the U-19 World Cup before making it big on the international stage.

India’s last edition’s hero Rohit Sharma and Piyush Chawla have already made their presence felt at the big league.

Pakistan will be looking to secure an unprecedented hat trick of wins.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be here to play this tournament. To represent one’s own country at international level has always been a dream, which has come true,” said skipper Iman Wasim.

Pakistan is the only team to have won back-to-back titles, having triumphed in 2004 and 2006 in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, respectively. India is seeded second, with Australia (winners in the inaugural event back in 1988 and also in 2002) seeded third and England (winners in 1999) fourth.

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