India once again 'the team to beat' at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in UAE
Defending champion India looks like the side to beat once again at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup (ICC U19 CWC), the tenth edition of which will be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 14 February to 1 March.
In 2013, India won 12 of its 14 matches and emerged victorious in all three series it played. And after lifting the ACC U19 Asia Cup in the UAE last month, it has established itself as the firm title favourite.
History suggests that apart from India, the other big title-contenders will be Australia and Pakistan. These three countries have won, between them, eight of the nine ICC U19 CWC editions that have been staged so far. England is the only other country to have become the champion - a feat it managed in 1998.
Australia and India have won the title three times each. Australia was triumphant in 1988, 2002 and 2010, while India wore the crown in 2000, 2008 and 2012. Pakistan is the only team to have defended its title, repeating its 2004 heroics in 2006.
Recent performance and form, however, clearly mark out India as strong contenders to emulate Pakistan. In 2013, it first won the Top End U19 tri-series also featuring Australia and New Zealand in July.
India then won the three-match bilateral series against Sri Lanka 2-0 in August 2013. To round off a good year, it won the U19 quadrangular series also featuring South Africa, Australia and Zimbabwe.
At the recent ACC U19 Asia Cup, India lost just one league match (against Pakistan) in the preliminary round, before beating the same opponents comprehensively in the final.
The ACC U19 Asia Cup is the only tournament of the three that Pakistan has participated in during the last calendar year that it has not won. Before that, it won two tri-nation series - one in England also featuring the host and Bangladesh, and one in the UAE featuring the host and England. Overall, Pakistan was unbeaten in 12 consecutive matches before losing to India in the ACC U19 Asia Cup final, and will be one of the teams to watch out for this month.
(Posted on 07-02-2014)