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ICC U-19 event off to a glittering start in New Zealand

ANI  |  Christchurch [New Zealand] 

The U-19 2018 officially got underway in style at the in on Sunday, with an impressive ceremony showcasing New Zealand's culture.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of all the 16 participating sides, Councillor Aaron Keown, as well as Debbie Hockley, who, on behalf of the and (Cricket), welcomed the teams to the tournament.

The squads, officials and other spectators present at the event enjoyed the short opening programme, the highlight of which were traditional Maori dances.

The cultural event was followed by photoshoots of the participating teams in a festive atmosphere.

The tournament gets underway on January 13, with matches spread across the seven venues in New Zealand- Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga and Whangarei.

The tournament winners will be crowned in Tauranga on February 3. The teams will get a chance to get into their groove with practice matches in Christchurch, starting from January 8-11.

said: "This event plays an important role in developing its participants into international professionals, teaching them invaluable lessons in camaraderie, discipline, leadership, playing under pressure and, of course, appreciating the spirit of the game".

The said: "Never before has an opening event taken place at an U-19 featuring all 16 teams, so we jumped at the opportunity to create a very special occasion for them"

The teams attending the opening ceremony were enthusiastic about the event with the captains looking to make the maximum of the chances that come their way.

The Australian said: "It's good to be in the nets, but we're ready now to play sometime in the middle. I reckon that's the best part of playing this There's that bit of uncertainty where we don't really know what to expect. We know New Zealand's quite cold, the wickets might seam a bit more, but I think we have the batting line-up and the attack to go all the way."

Bangladeshi added: "There is an amazing atmosphere here, everybody is quite excited. Last year, we were third, so we will go for number one. The conditions are tough for us, but we are adjusting quite nicely after playing some matches here. We will go match by match".

The England also said: "The team travelled well and we have had a good couple of days training. We're ready for the first warm-up game, and the last few days of training, we are confident for the group stage. We're here to win it (the tournament)".

The runners-up of the 2016 edition and Indian captain expressed his views: "We've been here a week now, played a couple of games. Everything has gone well, the preparation of the team has been good. Our goal is obviously to win the World Cup, but at the same time, we are looking forward to our first game (against on January 13). Let's see how the process goes".

captain said: "We are looking forward to playing decent cricket. The best thing about this tournament is you can play the best in the world. It's a good chance to take a big step forward on the big stage. We're starting to get the feel (of a big tournament) since the tournament is just a week away. There is pressure, but the team that performs under pressure will come out on top".

The Pakistani captain also added: "Our aim is to win the tournament. We have prepared well and hopefully, we will perform well and make it three times for and catch up with and (who have won three times each). Most of us are touring New Zealand for the first time, but we are adjusting well and have a good chance to express ourselves."

South African captain said: "We arrived yesterday after a long trip, but are really excited to be here. It's really nice and a friendly country, and we're really excited for to start. Obviously, our main goal is to win the World Cup, but we're just going to take it one game at a time."

captain also said: "We've never won the U-19 World Cup and we think this (winning the tournament) will be a big boost for cricket back home. Our team is really good, all are in good form and we really want to win it this time. We have some new plans and we did the right things in preparations over the past couple of months and we have to now just do that in this World Cup."

The champions of the 2016 edition and West captain said: "This is always a good tournament to take part. This is my second time. Last time, it was a special occasion for us as we won, so we have to give a good account of ourselves and cricket. This tournament sets the foundation for us and is very important for us all".

The Zimbabwean captain too added: "I feel excited; I also feel privileged to be here representing my country. I'm looking forward to this big competition, though we have had lots of competition over the past two years. Here I'm looking for high scoring games, lots of runs, lots of wickets for the boys".

In the 2018 edition, sixteen teams have been divided into four groups, each consisting of four teams each. Group A comprises the West Indies, New Zealand, and Group B is formed by Australia, India, and Group C consists of Bangladesh, Canada, England and Namibia, and Group D comprise Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and

According to the event format, the top two sides from each group will advance to the Super League, while the remaining eight teams will figure in the Plate Championship. The preliminary round matches will be followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals, along with the playoffs.

and have both won the Under-19 tournament three times. are the only ones to have won back-to-back titles (in 2004 and 2006), while England, South Africa, and the West have won once each.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 07 2018. 23:49 IST