Defending champion West Indies will take on hosts New Zealand in the opening day of the next year’s ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, which runs from January 13 to February 3.
The West Indies will play the inaugural Group A day-night fixture at Bay Oval in Tauranga to kick start the event, which also features 16 teams across seven venues in four cities – Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga and Whangarei.
The 10 Test playing nations (prior to Afghanistan and Ireland’s recent inclusion) gained automatic qualification to the event along with the best finishing associate from the last edition, Namibia.
They are joined by five regional qualifiers in the biennial tournament that showcases future stars every two years. Past alumni of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup include current captains Steve Smith (Australia), Virat Kohli (India), Kane Williamson (New Zealand) and Sarfraz Ahmed (Pakistan).
The other teams in Group A are 2012 champion South Africa and Africa qualifier Kenya while three-time champions India and Australia are clubbed together in Group B along with Zimbabwe and East Asia Pacific qualifier Papua New Guinea.
Bangladesh, Canada, England and Namibia comprise Group C while two-time champion Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Asia qualifier Afghanistan and Europe qualifier Ireland form Group D in what is the 11th edition of the tournament and the third to be held in New Zealand.
The top two sides from each group will advance to the Super League while the remaining eight teams will figure in the plate championship.
The final will be played at Bay Oval in Tauranga on February 3 while both semifinals will be played at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on January 29 and January 30.
The plate tournament will run simultaneously but end with the final at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Christchurch on January 28.
Meanwhile, The captains of the teams coming through the Qualifiers are looking forward to the tournament, which is a stepping stone in the development of all participants – players and match officials.