U-19 WC: Runaway Favourites India Ready for 'High Five'; Japan, Nigeria Add Novelty

Cape Town, Jan 16 (PTI) A few precocious talents, hardworking teenagers and a chunky lot which might fall by the wayside in times to come will form an eclectic 16-team mix in the melting pot called ICC Under-19 World Cup starting on Friday.

Defending champions India will be overwhelming favourites to win the junior global meet for the fifth time with at least six players, including skipper Priyam Garg having played senior cricket (first-class, List A or T20).

Not to forget four players -- Yashasvi Jaiswal, Garg, Ravi Bishnoi, Kartik Tyagi -- who have already landed fat contracts in the IPL.

India have been the team to beat on the junior cricket circuit since Virat Kohli's team dominated the proceedings in the 2008 edition.

While there will be future stars in Pakistan, Australia, England and New Zealand teams, the presence of Japan and Nigeria will certainly have its own curiosity value.

In fact Japan are clubbed with India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in group D.

The Japanese team mostly has South Asian expats with names like Tushar Chaturvedi, Yugandhar Retharekar, Ishan Fartyal, Debasish Sahoo helping out the likes of Kazumasha Takahashi, Masato Morita and Shu Noguchi.

The Nigerian team, which is clubbed in a difficult group comprising Australia, West Indies and England, has more local flavour in the presence of Sylvester Okpe, Oche Boniface, Ifeanyichukwu Uboh and Olayinka Olaleye.

The tournament starts with hosts South Africa taking on Afghanistan in the 'Diamond City' of Kimberley on Friday, followed by Australia's big-ticket game against West Indies on the very next day.

Australia like India have a number of players, who have already played senior level cricket with one prominent name being former death over specialist Ian Harvey's nephew McKenzhie Harvey, who has played 2 List A and 13 T20 games.

Similarly England have Ben Charlesworth with an experience of 11 first-class games to his credit while a few of his teammates have also played for their respective counties.

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