DUBAI: Defending champions West Indies will open their campaign against host New Zealand in next year’s ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, the schedule for which was announced on Thursday by the ICC.
The West Indies will play the inaugural Group A day-night fixture at Bay Oval in Tauranga on the opening day of the event which runs from 13 January – 3 February 2018, featuring 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.
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 quarterfinals, semifinals and final of the Super League will be among the 20 matches to be broadcast live. The final will be played at Bay Oval in Tauranga on 3 February while both semifinals will be played at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on 29 and 30 January.
The plate tournament will run simultaneously but end with the final at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Christchurch on 28 January. Entry to the grounds will be free for the ICC U19 World Cup giving cricket fans in New Zealand an opportunity to see tomorrow’s stars today.
Tournament Director Brendan Bourke adds, “This will be the most accessible international event ever staged throughout New Zealand, with free entry to all games, so we look forward to opening the gates to our match venues in a little under five months’ time."