WELLINGTON: The ICC Under-19 Cricket World 2018 Cup officially got underway in style at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand on Sunday with an impressive ceremony showcasing New Zealand’s culture.
According to a media release of the ICC, the ceremony was attended by representatives of all the 16 participating sides, Christchurch Councillor Aaron Keown, as well as New Zealand Cricket President Debbie Hockley, who, on behalf of the ICC and NZC, welcomed the teams to the tournament.
The tournament proper gets underway on January 13 with matches spread across seven venues in the cities of Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga and Whangarei. The winners will be crowned in Tauranga on February 3. The teams will get a chance to get into their groove with practice matches in Christchurch from January 8-11. “The squads, officials and other spectators present at the event enjoyed the short opening programme, the highlight of which were traditional Maori dances. The cultural event was followed by photo shoots of participating teams in a festive atmosphere that saw the teams mingling with each other,” added the ICC release.
Pakistan captain Hassan Khan said: “Our aim is to win the tournament. We have prepared well and hopefully we will perform well and make it three times for Pakistan and catch up with India and Australia (who have won three times each). Most of us are touring New Zealand for the first time but we are adjusting well and have a good chance to express ourselves.” Australia and India have both won the tournament three times, Pakistan are the only ones to have won back-to-back titles (in 2004 and 2006) while England, South Africa and the Windies are the other winners of the tournament.
New Zealand Cricket President Debbie Hockley said in a statement: “This event plays an important role in developing its participants into international professionals, teaching them invaluable lessons in camaraderie, discipline, leadership, playing under pressure and, of course, appreciating the spirit of the game.” Tournament Director Brendan Bourke said in a statement: “Never before has an opening event taken place at an ICC U19 Cricket World Cup featuring all 16 teams, so we jumped at the opportunity to create a very special occasion for them.” The teams attending the opening ceremony were enthusiastic about the event with the captains looking to make the maximum of the chances that come their way.
The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, which is held every two years, replicates a major global tournament experience in terms of organization. The upcoming tournament from 13 January to 3 February is the 12th edition of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup and the third time it is being held in New Zealand. Group A comprises the Windies, New Zealand, South Africa and Kenya; Group B is formed by Australia, India, PNG and Zimbabwe; Group C consists of Bangladesh, Canada, England and Namibia; Group D comprises Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Ireland. According to the event format, 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 preliminary round matches will be followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals, plus the play-offs.