Sri Lanka will be looking for their maiden Under-19 Cricket World Cup when the Kavindu Mendis-led team will take on Ireland, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the opening round of the tournament in New Zealand from tomorrow.
The 16-team ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup will get underway in New Zealand tomorrow. The best of the next generation will be on view over the next 22 days. Two-times champions Pakistan and defending champions West Indies are among the teams to be seen in action on the opening day.
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.
Sri Lanka will kick-start the campaign by taking on Ireland at Cobham Oval, Whangarei on Sunday.
Kamindu Mendis will lead the national Under-19 squad during the tournament in New Zealand. Mendis bowls left-arm spin and off-spin, and is also a useful batsman. The Galle-born cricketer also played in the Under-19 World Cup held in Bangladesh in 2016, compiling 156 runs and bagging five wickets. Ashen Bandara, who topped the batting charts in the 2017 Under-19 Asia Cup, and Praveena Jayawickrama, the left-arm spinner, are some of the other key members of the 15-man squad.
Sri Lanka have been placed in Group D alongside Pakistan, Ireland and Afghanistan. In the second match Sri Lanka will take on Afghanistan on the 17th before playing Pakistan on the 19th of January.
The Sri Lankan side is tipped to get away with a win against Ireland but games against the Afghans and Pakistanis will be real testers. During the last World Cup, Sri Lanka finished fourth, losing to home side Bangladesh by three wickets in the third place playoff.
Sri Lanka’s best show in the Under-19 World Cup came in 2000 when the Malintha Gajanayake-led side reached the final of the showpiece event.
Speaking ahead of the tournament Sri Lanka captain Kamindu Mendis said, “Playing in two World Cups is a great thing. I think that experience can help me do more for my country and my team. The country is always looking to us, and I just want to do best for my country.”
Stay tuned to NewsRadio for the latest from the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand.