Defending champion India will open its ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup campaign against two-time winner Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium (DICS) on February 15, 2014.

The tournament will be staged across seven venues in the UAE from February 14 to March 1. The participating teams are Afghanistan, Canada, Namibia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Scotland and the UAE, besides the 10 Full Members.

India, which also won the tournament under Mohammad Kaif and Virat Kohli in 2000 and 2008 respectively, defeated Pakistan by one-wicket in an enthralling semifinal before going on to beat Australia by six wickets in the 2012 final in Townsville, Australia.

In the 2010 event in New Zealand, Pakistan overcame India in a last-ball thriller in the quarterfinals in Lincoln. The two sides also met in the final of the ICC u-19 Cricket World Cup 2006 in Colombo where Pakistan defended a modest total of 110 to win by 39 runs.

Four groups

According to the format, 16 teams have been divided into four groups, with the top two teams progressing to the Super League quarterfinals, while the two bottom teams from each group qualify for the Plate Championship quarterfinals.

India has been clubbed with Pakistan, Scotland and PNG in Group A.

Four matches will be played on the opening day with 1998 winner England taking on the UAE at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, Zimbabwe locking horns with Canada at Abu Dhabi Oval 1, New Zealand meeting Sri Lanka at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium and South Africa taking on the West Indies at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Forty-eight matches will be played at seven venues in the 16-day tournament.

ICC General Manager (Cricket) Geoff Allardice, while announcing the groups and fixtures here, said: “The ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup is a hugely important event for international teams and for the ICC as it showcases the future stars of international cricket. The tournament has produced more than 40 Full Member players that have gone on to captain their side in international cricket in different formats — Brian Lara, Graeme Smith and Inzamam-ul-Haq, to name a few.

“The ICC U-19 CWC gives the world’s best young cricketers a chance to test their skills in a truly global event. Teams will need to be at their best every day if they want to win the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup. We expect to see some spectacular cricket.”

Sri Lanka’s ODI captain Angelo Mathews played in the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cups 2006 and 2008, and, reflecting on his time at these events said: “Having played in a couple of ICC U-19 Cricket World Cups, I can tell you that this is the best stage for any raw talent to polish his skills. The lessons that I learned in Bangladesh in 2004 and in Sri Lanka in 2006 have, in hindsight, been truly invaluable.

The UAE tournament will be the 10th edition of the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup since its inception in 1988. Australia won the tournament in 1988, 2002 and 2010, England was the champion in 1998, India held aloft the trophy in 2000, 2008 and 2012 and Pakistan was the winner in 2004 and 2006.

The venues: Zayed Cricket Stadium (Abu Dhabi), Abu Dhabi Oval 1, Abu Dhabi Oval 2, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai Sports City, ICC Academy Oval 1, Dubai, ICC Academy Oval 2, Dubai.

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