The best of the next generation will be on view over the next 22 days as the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup kicks off with four matches on Saturday, including those featuring defending champions the Windies and two-time champions Pakistan.
The Windies face New Zealand in a day-night fixture in Tauranga while Pakistan take on dark horses Afghanistan in Whangarei. In other matches on the opening day to be played in Christchurch, Bangladesh take on Namibia and Papua New Guinea play Zimbabwe.
The buzz around the event has grown over the past few weeks and the teams have warmed up for the 16-side event with some rigorous practice sessions and warm-up matches in Christchurch.
A tournament whose alumni incudes the likes of international skippers Steve Smith (Australia), Joe Root (England), Virat Kohli (India), Kane Williamson (New Zealand) and Sarfraz Ahmed (Pakistan), brings together the best from around the world with teams evenly matched.
The coaches of different teams exuded confidence on the eve of the tournament but understand that teams are unknown commodities at this level and so also displayed caution when asked about their team’s prospects.
Australia coach Ryan Harris showed confidence in his “well-balanced side”, England coach Jon Lewis understood the “transient nature of under-19 cricket”, India coach Rahul Dravid eyed “opportunities to do well” while Pakistan coach Mansoor Rana hoped the side will repeat past successes.