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Tough Cup opener

Kenya will mark their return to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup after 14 years with an encounter against former champions South Africa in New Zealand.

The World Cup, featuring 16 teams will be played across seven venues in four cities: Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga and Whangarei between January 13 and February 3 next year.

Kenya, who shocked Uganda to qualify for their maiden World Cup since 2004, are in Group A alongside hosts New Zealand, defending champions West Indies and South Africa.

West Indies will play hosts New Zealand on opening day of the event in an inaugural day-night fixture at Bay Oval.

Three-time champions India and Australia are set to clash in Group B that also has Zimbabwe and East Asia Pacific qualifiers Papua New Guinea.

The 10 Test playing nations (prior to Afghanistan and Ireland’s inclusion) gained automatic qualification to the event alongside best finishing associate from the last edition, Namibia.

They are joined by five regional qualifiers.

Bangladesh, Canada, England and Namibia are in Group C while two—time champions Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Asian qualifiers Afghanistan and European qualifiers Ireland form Group D in the tournament, which marks the 11th edition of the global showpiece and the third to be held in New Zealand.

The top two sides from each group will advance to the Super League while the remaining eight teams will feature in the plate championship.

The final will be played at Bay Oval on February 3 while both semifinals will be played at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on January 29 and 30.

The plate tournament will run simultaneously but end with the final at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Christchurch on 28 January.

Despite the experience of the Kenyan opponents at the event, Kenya skipper Sachin Bhudia remained confident that Kenya will cause some upsets in their push to finish as a top Associate country. “It’s definitely a great opportunity for us to participate in the ICC U19 World Cup. We would like to finish as the top associate team in the event, but more importantly, we will take one game at a time,” said Bhudia.

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