Under-19 Cricket World Cup: We look at the strong Asian block
At any International Cricket Council tournament‚ the Asian block is always one to worry about considering how well India‚ Pakistan and to an extent‚ Sri Lanka have fared in the Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
They have the biggest contingent in the 16-team tournament and here's how they are expected to perform in the biennial age-group event that starts on Friday in Kimberley.
It's difficult to look past the defending champions‚ who again come into an Under-19 tournament with a well-drilled side.
They cruised to their fourth title in New Zealand two years ago and that side has already produced a Test match centurion in Prithvi Shaw.
They've dealt well with the burden of expectation and it shouldn't be any different this time round.
India should be able to see off New Zealand‚ Sri Lanka and Japan in Group A.
They may be without Naseem Shah‚ who's graduated to Test cricket‚ but they still have a formidable side that's accustomed to South African conditions.
They were here last year when they whitewashed their South African counterparts 7-0.
Their group‚ though‚ is a tricky one as it contains a feisty Zimbabwe side and an unpredictable Bangladesh. It's never easy having Test teams in your group.
In beating South Africa in a warm-up game‚ Sri Lanka have again showed their ability to marshal their cricketing resources.
However‚ they'll have difficulty navigating past India‚ but New Zealand and Japan should be easy enough to see off.
Sri Lanka have punched way below their weight at the Under-19 tournament‚ which goes against their gritty full international abilities.
Bangladesh have been able to produce reasonably good age group teams‚ but they haven't quite graduated to World Cup winning status.
However‚ they've given the world some very good players and that should be the case.
Pakistan in Group B is going to be their toughest task while Zimbabwe will also be difficult.
That game could decide which of those teams progress to the Super League quarter-finals.
Just how decent this Afghanistan side is will be seen on Friday when they play South Africa in the opening Group D game in Kimberley.
Their talented youngsters tend to graduate into international cricket quicker than most.
That dilutes the strength of their team but with the impressive strides they've made at international level‚ they're bound to improve at age-group level.
They should be able to see off the United Arab Emirates and Canada in their other group matches.
United Arab Emirates (Asia Division 1)
It is the UAE's second visit to the Under-19 World Cup and they did it with some ease after breezing through Asian Division 1 tournament.
They won all their five games with ease in the qualifying tournament that was held in Malaysia in the middle of April last year.
South Africa and Afghanistan‚ though‚ will be tough teams to beat.
Japan (East Asia Pacific Division 1)
They qualified for the tournament after Cricket Papua New Guinea suspended ten of their team members for breaching the team's code of conduct ahead of the final game against the Japanese in the qualifying tournament that was held in Japan.
Both teams were unbeaten heading into the final game and the suspensions of the 10 players meant that Papua New Guinea were unable to field a team.
Japan‚ though‚ have India‚ New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Group A to contend with.