ICC: Australia, Sri Lanka join upbeat African challengers in Group C

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Photo Credit: ICC

Three-time champions Australia are joined by Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Namibia to make up Group C of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024.

The first game in the group will take place between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe on 22 January. All the games will be played in Kimberley.

Here we take a look at the four teams, their make-up, and some of the future stars to look out for.

Australia

Australia are the second-most successful side in the U19 Men’s CWC after India. Their first success came in the inaugural edition of the tournament way back in 1988, when as hosts of the Youth World Cup, they beat Pakistan by five wickets.

Australia’s second triumph came in 2002  when Cameron White led them to a win in New Zealand. Their neighbouring country proved to be a happy hunting ground yet again in 2010 when Josh Hazlewood’s splendid 4/30 helped Mitchell Marsh’s team win the final against Pakistan by 25 runs.

The young Australians featured in a fully-fledged tour of England late in 2023. The tour was successful on all counts, with the side winning series in all three formats.

Squad

Lachlan Aitken, Charlie Anderson, Harkirat Bajwa, Mahli Beardman, Tom Campbell, Harry Dixon, Ryan Hicks, Sam Konstas, Rafael MacMillan, Aidan O’Connor, Harjas Singh, Tom Straker, Callum Vidler, Corey Wasley, Hugh Weibgen

Fixtures

22 January: v Namibia, Kimberley
25 January: v Zimbabwe, Kimberley

28 January: v Sri Lanka, Kimberley

Watch out for

Harry Dixon

Harry Dixon, who has been likened to David Warner and already has a Big Bash League contract to his name, will be the player to watch out for from Australia. He was a prominent run-getter during Australia’s U19 tour of England, scoring a hundred in both the Youth Tests, finishing with 406 runs in two games.

The batter had his brush with senior cricket in December when he featured for Victoria XI against Pakistan. The aggressive southpaw can help give Australia some amazing starts with his fireworks.

What they said

Hugh Weiben, Australia captain: “We are quite a balanced side and all our different playing styles complement each other really well. Everyone also knows their role really well and we have the confidence in one another that any one one of us can get the job done with either the bat, ball or in the field.”

**Sri Lanka **

Sri Lanka are yet to lift the U19 Men’s CWC trophy but have left their mark on the tournament over the years. They made the final once in 2000, where they lost to Mohammed Kaif’s India by six wickets. Their solitary success at this event has come in the previous format, winning the Plate Finals twice, in 2012 against Afghanistan and in 2018 against the West Indies.

Some of the prominent names to have played in the U19 World Cups before making their name at the international level include Sanath Jayasuriya, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, Wanindu Hasaranga, Matheesha Pathirana and Dunith Wellalage.

The current Sri Lanka U19s have featured in a triangular series against Afghanistan and Bangladesh in 2023, have hosted West Indies, and toured Pakistan in the leadup to the World Cup. The side recently played in the U19 Asia Cup but failed to make it to the knockout stage. Still, with practice aplenty, the young Lankans will look to set the tournament alight.

Squad

Sineth Jayawardena (c), Pulindu Perera, Hirun Kapurubandara, Ravishan Nethsara, Rusanda Gamage, Sharujan Shanmuganathan, Dinura Kalupahana, Malsha Tharupathi, Vishva Lahiru, Garuka Sanketh, Duvindu Ranatunga, Ruvishan Perera, Supun Waduge, Vihas Thewmika, Vishen Halambage.

Travelling Reserves: Dinuka Tennakoon, Hiran Jayasundara.

Fixtures

21 January: v Zimbabwe, Kimberley

24 January: v Namibia, Kimberley

28 January: v Australia, Kimberley

Watch out for

Malsha Tharupathi

In a land known for its finger spinners, Malsha Tharupathi is a rising leg-break bowler with a knack for handy contributions with the willow. The bowling all-rounder has already made his mark in the Sri Lanka domestic circuit, with 10 List A wickets at an average of 21.9, and 18 T20 wickets for merely 11.27.

He played a crucial role in Sri Lanka U19’s ODI series win over Pakistan during their tour of the country in October, taking seven wickets at an average of 18.71. He also picked five wickets at an average of 20 in the U19 Asia Cup in December.

A leg-spinning all-rounder, Tharupathi seems to be following up in the footsteps of his Richmond College alum Wanindu Hasaranga. Sri Lanka U19s will hope that the youngster can emulate Hasaranga’s magical touch to lift their fortunes in the tournament.

What they said

Sineth Jayawardena, Sri Lanka captain: “As a unit, we are always together, and as the captain, I think that’s our main strength. Even though we have downfalls, we have always made comebacks.”

Zimbabwe

An advantage of the tournament being shifted to South Africa is that Zimbabwe will be playing in familiar conditions. Zimbabwe shone in the tournament in the 2000s, winning the Plate Final in 2002, and going beyond the group stage in 2004 and 2006. They’ve defeated the likes of Australia, New Zealand, and England in the past.

Individual performers have shone in the U19 World Cup for the African nation. The most prominent of these was Tatenda Taibu, who won the Player of the Tournament award for his 250 runs and 12 wickets in the 2002 edition.

Zimbabwe prepared for the upcoming U19 World Cup with a two-match series against Ireland which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Squad

Nathaniel Hlabangana, Panashe Taruvinga, Ronak Patel, Campbell MacMillan, Ryan Kamwemba, Brendon Sunguro, Calton Takawira, Matthew Schonken (c), Anesu Kamuriwo, Newman Nyamhuri, Mashford Shungu, Kohl Eksteen, Panashe Gwatiringa, Shaun Dzakatira, Munashe Chimusoro

Fixtures

21 January: v Sri Lanka, Kimberley

25 January: v Australia, Kimberley

27 January: v Namibia, Kimberley

Watch out for

Panashe Taruvinga

Along with his skipper Matthew Schonken, Panashe Taruvinga will be one of the few players from the previous edition of the tournament to feature in the U19 Men’s CWC 2024 . In 2022, the 16-year-old Taruvinga had scored 39 runs in his two outings.

With age, the wicketkeeper-batter has gained experience and has shown his brilliance in the club circuits of Zimbabwe. He recently played two handy knocks against the Ireland U19s. In Andy Flower, Taibu, and Brendan Taylor, the Chevrons have produced some brilliant keeper-batters, and Taruvinga has a golden opportunity to put his name forward as a reliable option for the future.

What they said

Matthew Schonken, Zimbabwe captain: “This is a one-time experience for most of us and is a great start to everyone’s cricket career, we are hoping that we all get a good kick start into the start of our futures ahead of us.”

Namibia

This will be Namibia’s 10th appearance in the tournament. An up-and-coming side in the international circuit, Namibia made their first appearance in the competition way back in 1998.

To date, the 2016 edition has been the most successful one for the African side. They beat Scotland by a comfortable margin in the group stage, before stunning neighbours South Africa by two wickets to secure a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Though they lost to India by 197 runs, they finished seventh, thus ensuring their best-ever U19 World Cup outing.

Namibia qualified in the tournament on the back of a near-perfect run in the Africa Division- 1 Qualifier for the U19 World Cup. They won four games of the five games with the match against Uganda ending without a result.

Squad

Alex Volschenk (c), Gerhard Janse van Rensburg, Hansie de Villiers, JW Visagie, Ben Brassell, Jack Brassell, Henry van Wyk, Zacheo van Vuuren, Nico Pieters, Faf du Plessis, Woutie Niehaus, PD Blignaut, Hanro Badenhorst, Junior Kariata, Ryan Moffett.

Fixtures

22 January: v Australia, Kimberley

24 January: v Sri Lanka, Kimberley

27 January: v Zimbabwe, Kimberley

Watch out for

Gerhard Janse van Rensburg

Gerhard Janse van Rensburg is already sparring with the big boys and has featured in the senior side’s encounters against Uganda (albeit in games without official status) and the Karnataka domestic team from India.

Though a wicketkeeper-batter, Janse van Rensburg can also roll his arm over and pick crucial wickets for the side. So other than adding solidity to the middle-order of the Eagles, his presence guarantees a true all-round asset in the field.

What they said

Alexander Volschenk, Namibia captain: “During the qualifiers, our team bonded like a band of brothers, playing with each other, for each other. No one is bigger than the team.”

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