Following Nigeria’s success in claiming an ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020 spot, the battle for the four remaining places heads to the Asia Qualifier in Malaysia, with six teams vying for the top spot.
Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Singapore and the UAE will compete in the tournament taking place between 12 and 18 April, where the winners will become the 13th team to confirm their place in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa in 2020. This is the second stage for teams in Asia, who due to the depth of strength in the region, competed in a Division 2 in 2018, where Kuwait and Oman qualified to continue their U19 journey.
The direct 2019 regional qualifiers provide teams with a winner-takes-all opportunity to compete in a World Cup. The winner of the Asia qualifier will join Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Zimbabwe in the tournament next January and February.
15 matches will be played across three venues in the Kuala Lumpar area – Kinrara Oval, Bayuemas Oval and Selangor Turf Club.
Nepal captain Rohit Kumar Paudel recalls his first memories of Nepal in an ICC event: “I got introduced to cricket when Nepal played the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2014 in Bangladesh. Team unity and teamwork are my favourite things about cricket. The players are passionate and determined towards the game and there is huge fan following of cricket in Nepal. It would be one of the best moments of my life, as taking our team to the World Cup would make our country proud.”
Malaysia captain Muhammad Amir Azim Bin Abd Shukor shares his thoughts on what cricket can do for participants: “I got introduced to this game by my primary school teacher. My knowledge and love for the sport deepened as I continued to play frequently. Cricket has taught me the true meaning of patience, determination and stamina. I feel thrilled and I can’t wait to get into action alongside my teammates in the qualifier and hopefully onto the U19 Cricket World Cup itself. We have good facilities such as the world-class Kinrara, we are all looking forward to it.”
Kuwait captain Abdul Sadiq is looking forward to representing Kuwait in the competition: “The best thing is having to play with teammates as a single unit representing Kuwait at higher competitive levels. It will be a dream come true to qualify, as we have constantly worked hard for the last four years and I am willing to give it my everything. I used to watch my elder brother play cricket and practice, and got the interest to play myself at the age of 11.”
Singapore captain Aman Desai describes the unpredictability of cricket. “Cricket is an exciting sport. You never know what can happen the next ball. And It is the challenge of playing under pressure that I personally enjoy. Coming from a family where my elder brother and father played cricket, I was exposed to the sport at a young age and since then I never looked back. Being a small nation, we have a well-structured system with a very close-knit community. I look forward to making history and enjoy this once- in-a-lifetime opportunity”.
UAE captain Aryan Lakra shares his experiences of playing cricket in the UAE: “When I moved to Dubai eight years ago, my dad got me into a number of sports, but it was cricket which I liked the most. You get a chance to train with a lot of players you admire on TV whenever they come to the UAE, which has some of the best training facilities in the world. To play in a World Cup would be a dream come true for any cricketer around the world. I would be over the moon if we qualified”.
Oman captain Prathamesh Santosh Kumble said: “Cricket has a spirit of teamwork and responsibility among the youth. This is one of the most important things I realised when my parents enrolled me to a cricket academy at the age of seven in Muscat. Oman is a great place to play cricket we have well-maintained turf grounds, efficient coaches and competitive cricket going on.”
12 April: Malaysia v UAE (Kinrara Oval); Kuwait v Oman (Bayuemas Oval); Singapore v Nepal (Selangor Turf Club)
13 April: UAE v Nepal (Kinrara Oval); Kuwait v Singapore (Bayuemas Oval); Malaysia v Oman (Selangor Turf Club)
14 April: Reserve day
15 April: Oman v Singapore (Kinrara Oval); Malaysia v Nepal (Bayuemas Oval); UAE v Kuwait (Selangor Turf Club)
16 April: Malaysia v Kuwait (Kinrara Oval); UAE v Singapore (Bayuemas Oval); Oman v Nepal (Selangor Turf Club)
17 April: Reserve day
18 April: Kuwait v Nepal (Kinrara Oval); UAE v Oman (Bayuemas Oval); Malaysia v Singapore (Selangor Turf Club)
Nepal: Rohit Kumar Paudel (captain), Mahamad Asif Sheikh, Bhim Sharki, Pawan Sarraf, Sundeep Jora, Kamal Singh Airee, Rasid Khan, Rit Gautam, Sagar Dhakal, Surya Tamang, Pratis GC, Kushal Malla, Hari Bahadur Chauhan, Avishek Basnet.
Kuwait: Abdul Sadiq (captain), Akhil Sajeev Nair, Faez Ahmed Qureshi, Gokul Sunil Kumar, Govind Sunil Kumar, Hamza Ahmed Qureshi, Jandu Hamoud Amanullah, Jude Saldanha, Meet Bhaysar, Mirza Ahmed, Nomaan Budroo, Muhammad Umar, Muhammad Abdullah Farooq, Zeshaan Jilani.
Malaysia: Muhammad Amir Azim Bin Abdul Shukor (captain), Mohamad Irfaq Bin Wan Yusoff, Mohammad Hakim Bin Harisan, Muhammad Amirul Syahmi Bin Nor Shah, Mohamad Marzukh Hasnan, Mohammad Afiq Syakir Shahruddin, Aslam Khan Malik, Shamsul Ikmal Shamsul Azman, Haiqal Mohd Khair, Vijay Unni Suresh, Wan Amirul Zulkarnain Bin Wan Azman, Iezzat Daniel Fiqry Bin Ahmad, Muhahammad Arief Bin Mohd Yusof, Muhammad Syukri Bin Madeli.
Oman: Prathamesh Kumble (captain), Mohammed Sameer, Joel Biju, Amanpreet Singh Sirah, Joshin Vincent, Azam Ali, Yash Mehta, Arjun Saritha, Sanjaya Raj Ravindra, Sami Al Balushi, Muhammad Muzahir Raza, Jeel Yagnesh Tanna, Neev Jayaprakash Poojari, Adeel Abbas.
Singapore: Aman Desai (captain), Sai Harsha Venugopal, Ishaan Paul Sawney, Yashaswi Agrawal, Aryan Berry, Aiden Brian Sherry, Raoul Sharma, Atharva Rahul Gune, Sathish Kannusami, Vinit Chittesh Mehta, Pramesh Singhavi, Arnaav Karan Chabria, Chandramauli Sridev, Pranav Sudarshan Rajesh Krishnan.
UAE: Aryan Lakra (captain), Aaron William Benjamin, Muhammad Akasha Tahir, Alishan Sharafu, Anand Kumar, Ashwanth Valthapa Chidambaram, Karthik Meiyappan, Mohammed Faraazuddin, Rishab Mukherjee, Niel Roshan Lobo, Osama Hassan Shah, Vritya Aravind, Syed Muhammad Haider Ansh.