Beaten finalists two years ago, India are looking to go one better this time around and replicate the achievements of the class of 2018, who swept all before them in New Zealand led by current internationals Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill.
Coming up against them in the group stage are 2014 champions South Africa, competition regulars Ireland and an Uganda side making their first appearance at this tournament for 16 years.
Group B begins in Guyana before moving to Trinidad & Tobago, where one match will take place at Queen’s Park Oval and three at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy.
India (14th appearance)
India have only once failed to make it past the group stage at an ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup – at the opening edition in 1988 – and enter among the favourites to go all the way.
Lifting the 2021 Asia Cup served as perfect preparation, with spinners Vicky Ostwal and Kaushal Tambe shining as India defeated Sri Lanka by nine wickets in the final on New Year’s Eve.
The spin twins, therefore, head to the Caribbean full of confidence, as do the Asia Cup’s leading run-scorers Harnoor Singh and Shaik Rasheed, and India’s strength with bat and ball will again make them formidable opponents.
Yash Dhull captains the side and will hope to join an illustrious list of names – including Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli and Shaw – to have led India to victory in this competition.
Ireland (9th appearance)
Ireland qualified for their ninth ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup in style, skittling Scotland for 66 in a one-sided final of the Europe qualifier last September.
Matthew Humphreys was the star in La Manga, taking 5-25, and the slow left-arm spinner from Lisburn will be eager to take that form into the big occasion.
Ireland warmed up by taking on Zimbabwe in Barbados over the New Year and though they went down 3-1 in the series, a 117-run win in the final match showed what the side captained by Tim Tector are capable of on their day.
Tenth place in 2010 is Ireland’s best performance in their eight outings to date but they won three of their six matches last time they qualified in 2018, including a memorable four-run victory over Afghanistan.
South Africa (13th appearance)
South Africa’s chances of success on home soil were ended at the quarter-final stage by eventual winners Bangladesh two years ago but a talented squad will hope to challenge for honours in the Caribbean.
All-rounder Dewald Brevis impressed for the Proteas youngsters in the CSA Provincial T20 Knockout competition in October – his batting style drawing comparisons with AB de Villiers – while his leg-spin caused West Indies plenty of problems in a recent warm-up series against the home nation.
Left-arm spinner Asakhe Tsaka and captain George van Heerden will also hope to make names for themselves in the coming weeks as South Africa look for a second ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup trophy.
Aiden Markram and Kagiso Rabada were the stars of a memorable triumph eight years ago and the current crop will be confident of following in their footsteps.
Uganda (3rd appearance)
Having narrowly missed out on appearing in 2016 and 2018, Uganda came out on the right side of a nail-biting qualification group to book a place at their third ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup.
Uganda needed a big net run rate swing in their favour going into the final matches in the Africa qualifier and they duly achieved it, dismissing Tanzania for 51 and losing just two wickets in reply to advance at Namibia’s expense.
In Cyrus Kakuru and Joseph Baguma, Uganda possessed the leading run-scorer and joint leading wicket-taker of the Africa qualifier while captain Pascal Murungi claimed 4-9 in the decisive win over Tanzania.
The Baby Cricket Cranes have won one match on each of their previous outings at this competition, in 2004 and 2006, and will be eager to show what they can do on their return to the global stage.