Come Saturday, the 16 teams will have the chance to make that first move towards becoming the future stars of the cricket fraternity. © ICC

Come Saturday, the 16 teams will have the chance to make that first move towards becoming the future stars of the cricket fraternity. © ICC

You can sell anything in India by putting Virat Kohli’s face on it. Though most of the products you see Kohli endorsing have nothing to do with him or his lifestyle, there is one promo doing the rounds on Indian television currently that might have caught your attention, maybe even given you goosebumps.

It’s a clip from the 2008 Under-19 World Cup – of an 18-year-old plump-faced Kohli hitting a cover drive, that cuts straight to a slow motion shot of the present Indian captain walking out to bat in front of a packed house in a 2015 World Cup match in Australia. A voice in Hindi, along with an emotive jingle, makes the claim in the background: He who shall play here today, will be watched by the world tomorrow.

The advertisement is from the broadcasters of the 2018 Under-19 World Cup that’s being hosted in New Zealand from Saturday (January 13) across seven venues in four cities.

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With the senior Indian team taking on South Africa in an enthralling series away from home, it’s going to be hard to attract too many eyes towards the U19 boys. But, surprisingly, there has been a decent buzz around the tournament in India, with most fans at least being aware of the fact that the Prithvi Shaw-led side are amongst the strongest in the competition.

The organisers are doing their best to spread the word, and 20 of the 48 matches in the tournament are going to be televised across 102 countries. Viewers from as many as 204 countries will have access to the games on digital web platforms, and social media has already had some traction around #U19CWC.

But there is a lot more at stake in the competition than mere numbers and TRPs and likes and shares and hits. For most of the youngsters in the tournament, this will be their first exposure to a global cricket tournament. Over the years, a number of players have used this platform to take off. More recently, some have even bagged cheques from Twenty20 franchises around the world through good performances at the U19 World Cups.

© Wisden India

© Wisden India

Once again this year, India look the strongest of the 16 teams in the competition. But that’s only on paper. In 2016 in Bangladesh, Windies showed the world that any team could throw up a surprise in this tournament as they beat India in the final and bagged their maiden title.

The six editions over the past 10 years have witnessed five different winners, with India the only side to clinch the trophy twice (in 2008 and 2012) in this period. Overall, Australia and India have three titles each to their names, with Pakistan crowned champions twice, and England, South Africa and Windies winning once each.

This is the third time that the tournament will be played in New Zealand, and the picturesque grounds around Whangarei, Tauranga, Christchurch and Queenstown are being decked up to fit the bill. Entry is free across all the venues, and with not much rugby going on at this time of the year, the second-most popular sport in the country has a good chance of attracting the crowd on the weekends.

Weather, however, could play spoilsport at certain stages of the tournament. Right now, it’s peak summer, hot with blue skies in Whangarei and Tauranga – the two venues in the North Island. But if the locals are to be believed, that could change at the drop of a hat. There has been a lot of rain in the south, with Christchurch experiencing regular showers this week and the black clouds are expected to invade Queenstown by next week. According to the forecast, Whangarei and Tauranga too could experience wet weather in the coming days.

But that’s not in anybody’s control, so the players are busy shearing off whatever little chinks remain in the armours. Come Saturday, they will have the chance to make that first move towards becoming the future stars of the cricket fraternity.


Whangarei (Cobham Oval)

Date Fixture
13-Jan-18 Pakistan v Afghanistan
14-Jan-18 Sri Lanka v Ireland
16-Jan-18 Pakistan v Ireland
17-Jan-18 Sri Lanka v Afghanistan
19-Jan-18 Sri Lanka v Pakistan
20-Jan-18 Afghanistan v Ireland

Tauranga (Bay Oval)

Date Fixture
13-Jan-18 New Zealand v West Indies
14-Jan-18 India v Australia
16-Jan-18 India v PNG
17-Jan-18 West Indies v South Africa
19-Jan-18 India v Zimbabwe
20-Jan-18 New Zealand v South Africa
03-Feb-18 Final

Queenstown (John Davies Oval)

Date Fixture
15-Jan-18 England v Namibia
18-Jan-18 Bangladesh v England
20-Jan-18 England v Canada
23-Jan-18 1st Group C v 2nd Group B
26-Jan-18 1st Group B v 2nd Group C
28-Jan-18 Super League Playoff SF 2
30-Jan-18 7th Place Playoff
31-Jan-18 5th Place Playoff
01-Feb-18 3rd Place Playoff


Date Fixture Venue
13-Jan-18 Zimbabwe v PNG Lincoln No. 3
13-Jan-18 Bangladesh v Namibia Bert Sutcliffe Oval
14-Jan-18 South Africa v Kenya Lincoln No. 3
15-Jan-18 Bangladesh v Canada Bert Sutcliffe Oval
17-Jan-18 Zimbabwe v Australia Lincoln No. 3
17-Jan-18 New Zealand v Kenya Hagley Oval
18-Jan-18 Namibia v Canada Bert Sutcliffe Oval
19-Jan-18 Australia v PNG Lincoln No. 3
20-Jan-18 West Indies v Kenya Lincoln No. 3
22-Jan-18 3rd Group C v 4th Group B Lincoln No. 3
22-Jan-18 3rd Group B v 4th Group C Bert Sutcliffe Oval
23-Jan-18 3rd Group D v 4th Group A Lincoln No. 3
23-Jan-18 3rd Group A v 4th Group D Bert Sutcliffe Oval
24-Jan-18 1st Group D v 2nd Group A Hagley Oval
25-Jan-18 1st Group A v 2nd Group D Hagley Oval
25-Jan-18 Plate Playoff SF 1 Rangiora Oval
25-Jan-18 Plate Playoff SF 2 Lincoln No. 3
25-Jan-18 Plate SF 1 Bert Sutcliffe Oval
26-Jan-18 Plate SF 2 Bert Sutcliffe Oval
27-Jan-18 Super League Playoff SF 1 Hagley Oval
27-Jan-18 15th Place Playoff Rangiora Oval
27-Jan-18 13th Place Playoff Lincoln No. 3
28-Jan-18 11th Place Playoff Rangiora Oval
28-Jan-18 Plate Final Bert Sutcliffe Oval
29-Jan-18 Super League SF 1 Hagley Oval
30-Jan-18 Super League SF 2 Hagley Oval