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ICC U/19 CWC 2008 will begin tomorrow

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 16 (UNI) India kicks off its campaign in a group B match against East Asia-Pacific qualifier Papua New Guinea in an ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup 2008 tomorrow at the Kinrara Oval.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli said hopes are high and the boys have the talent and it's a matter of pride to serve the country.

''I think we can do it,'' he added.

In Group A, defending champion Pakistan will take on host Malaysia at Johor Cricket Academy in the southern tip of Malaysia.

In two weeks' time, the new world champions will be crowned and Pakistan captain Iman Wasim is itching to become a legend back home by securing an unprecedented hat-trick of wins at this level for his country.

''It's an amazing feeling to be here in Malaysia for this great tournament,'' said Iman. ''To represent one's own country at international level has always been a dream, which has come true now.

''Winning the U/19 Cricket World Cup for the third time in a row will be a huge challenge because there is a lot of talent out there in all the other teams we will face. But we will play to win and only to win,'' he said.

With the likes of Umar Amin, Umer Akmal, Ahmed Shahzad and Adil Raza already showing good form in the warm-up games, Malaysia will have its work cut out to threaten this strong-looking Pakistan side.

Malaysian captain Mohammad Faiz knows he has home advantage on his side and is proud to be the first to captain his country at a U/19 CWC.

''I believe the standard will be very high and as a batsman I am looking forward to playing a major role in every match,'' said Faiz.

''It will not be easy for any batsman and this is where the challenge will come against pace bowlers. Pakistan is the team to beat and I am under no illusions as to how good they are but we have been working hard and we know the conditions here better than anyone. We will give it everything we have for our country,'' he said.

In Group D, England takes on Ireland in what on paper will be a comfortable win for Alex Wakely's team. But two years ago at the previous U/19 CWC in Sri Lanka, the Irish came within four runs of a spectacular upset over its neighbour and there are four players still in the Ireland squad from that time.

The other game of the first day is in Group C with Australia taking on Namibia in Penang, up in the north-west part of the country. No doubt Australia is the favourite going into this game but the Africa regional qualifier is not to be underestimated.

In captain Dawid Botha, it has a young man who already has two first-class centuries and two first-class fifties to his name and the likes of Louis van der Westhuizen, Sean Silver and Tiaan Louw are also capable of troubling anyone on their day. Michael Hill's Aussies will not be taking the Namibians lightly.

The 16 teams have been divided into four groups with the top two teams progressing to the Super League quarter-finals, while the two bottom teams from each group qualify for the Plate Championship quarter-finals.

A total of 44 matches, including 24 in the first round, seven in the Super League and 13 in play-offs will be played at seven venues across the three locations.

Pakistan is the only team to have won back-to-back titles at this level, having triumphed in 2004 and 2006 in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, respectively.


Story first published: Sunday, February 17, 2008, 8:59 [IST]
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