Nigeria’s under 19 Cricket Team, the “Junior Yellow Green”, will know their opponent as the
ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 qualifiers get underway this weekend.
Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Nigeria succeeded in winning the right to play at the next level against Namibia, Kenya, Uganda. The recently concluded Africa Qualifier hosted by Namibia clearly set Nigeria a class above to proceed to the 2020 World Cup to be staged in South Africa.
Nigeria will be joined by four other regional qualifiers, one each from the Asia Qualifier, EAP Qualifier, Americas Qualifier and Europe Qualifier. The four qualifiers will be held across the second and third quarter of 2019 in Malaysia (Asia), Japan (EAP), Canada (Americas) and Netherlands (Europe).
With the five Regional Qualifiers complete by the end of 2019, the identities of all competitors in the main event will be confirmed, with Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe already in the draw.
Malaysia hosts the Asia Qualifier where six teams will be battling it out on the field from 12–18 April. Only one team can move forward and join Nigeria, with Nepal, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore, UAE and Kuwait the teams fighting for the spot.
In 2018, South Africa hosted an 11-team play-off. Botswana, Gambia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia set off to fight for the chance to get two steps closer to the World Cup.
Kuwait and Oman are no strangers to each other, having tied at the finals of the ICC U19 World Cup Qualifier Asia Division 2 in December 2018. Hamoud Amanullah was Player of the Match with 23 runs off 55 balls, and two wickets for 21 runs in 10 overs.
Hamoud is the man to watch in this leg of the championship, his team captained by Abdul Sadiq. Oman’s Amanpreet Singh Sirah notched a good strike rate of 73.91, scoring 17 runs off 23 balls, and is another player to keep an eye on.
Captaining for Nepal is Rohit Kumar Paudel, just 16 years old and already making quite a name for himself. Being the youngest player to debut with Nepal’s first team, Rohit stood his ground and finished as the team’s second leading scorer – captain Paras Khadka being the first – in the WCL Division 2 in Namibia over a year ago. He has since become the youngest-ever player to notch an ODI fifty, beating the mark set by Sachin Tendulkar.
Wicket-keeper Aman Desai captains for Singapore, while Aryan Lakra leads UAE. Both teams have played extensively in Malaysia and will acclimatise fast and well.
Malaysia captain Muhammad Amir Azim is vastly experienced for this level. His international debut was the ICC Asia Under 19 World Cup Qualifier in Singapore in July 2017, playing alongside Malaysian senior players such as Virandeep and Syed Aziz. Malaysia and Singapore finished Nepal and Afghanistan in this tournament.