India, Pak, Bangla, Eng start favourites in QFs of ICC U19 WC
Unbeaten India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and England, will start as favourites when the Super League quarter-finals stage of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016 gets underway from on Friday in Fatullah and here.
These four teams topped their respective groups in the preliminary league with an all-win record, displaying all-round strengths good enough to take any one of them all the way to the title. Sri Lanka and the West Indies, the other two Test nations in the last eight, will also fancy their chances even as qualifiers Namibia and Nepal look to make a mark against the bigger teams.
The knock-out round opens with a match between Bangladesh and Nepal, two of the five Asian sides in the fray, here on Friday. The winner of this match will take on the winner of the other quarter-final between England and Sri Lanka, who go head to head here on Sunday. This semi-final too will be played here on February 9.
The other semi-final on February 11 February could feature a mouth-watering clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan if the two teams come through their respective quarter-finals.
India will face Namibia in Fatullah on Saturday and Pakistan will play the West Indies on Monday at the same venue.
Bangladesh, the most experienced side in the tournament with five players taking part in their second under-19 World Cup, has not looked back after knocking out defending champion South Africa in the opening match on January 27.
Nepal, which last played in the U19 World Cup in 2012 and returned for this edition after winning the qualifying tournament in Malaysia, defeated New Zealand and Ireland to advance to the quarter-finals.
Rahul Dravid-coached India swept past Group D rivals Ireland, New Zealand and Nepal in impressive fashion, but captain Ishan Kishan is not taking Namibia lightly in the quarter-finals.
“We have not seen Namibia play but they must obviously be doing well to get to this stage. The idea is to stick to the basics and focus on our plans,” he said.
“We have batted and bowled well but we can’t expect one person to perform in every match. Everyone has to contribute. We want to perform as a team.” Stocky Sarfaraz Khan scored 74 in each of the first two games to shore up a wobbly top-order.
But it was left-handed opener Rishabh Pant who stole the show with a blistering 78 off 24 balls against hapless Nepal, a knock studded with nine boundaries and five sixes.
His 50 off just 18 balls was the fastest recorded half-century in the history of under-19 international cricket.
Unfancied Namibia has progressed beyond its best-ever finish of 11th place in 2008 following a stunning two-wicket win over South Africa and a nine-wicket defeat of Scotland.
England, with nine senior county players in its ranks, has shown excellent form with both bat and ball in its three Group C matches to emerge as the team to beat in the competition. England raked up huge totals each time it took the crease, scoring 371 for three against Fiji and followed that with 282 for seven against the West Indies and 288 for four against Zimbabwe.