The 15th edition of the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup is set to begin on January 19 in South Africa, with the next generation of stars from 16 nations taking centre stage.

A total of 41 matches will be played across five venues in South Africa over a span of 24 days.

This tournament will feature some prominent cricketing nations, including five-time winners and defending champions India, the reigning ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup holders Australia, and New Zealand, who will be making a comeback after missing out on the most recent edition in the West Indies in 2022.

India lead the way with five titles to their name in the age-group event, followed by Australia (three), Pakistan (two), Bangladesh, South Africa, West Indies and England (one each).

This year, the Indians will be led by Uday Saharan, a middle-order batter who plays for Punjab on the domestic circuit.

Rare title defence opportunity for India

In the 2022 edition of the tournament, Yash Dhull’s India had a flawless run, with Ravi Kumar and Raj Bawa holding off a spirited England performance in the final to help the side to another crown.

While the age-specific nature of the tournament mostly ensures that a set of fresh faces appears in each new edition, India has still managed to win three out of the last six tournaments.

In a testament to their efficient youth setup, the side has consistently produced high-calibre players and have appeared in every single final of the tournament since 2016.

However, the side has never quite managed to lift the World Cup on back-to-back occasions. This prolific honour belongs only to Pakistan, who won in 2004 and 2006.

The 2024 edition presents the young Blues with a chance to not just win their sixth title, but also become the first since 2006 to successfully defend it.

Uday Saharan (C), Innesh Mahajan (WK), Arshin Kulkarni, Adarsh Singh, Rudra Mayur Patel, Sachin Dhas, Priyanshu Moliya, Musheer Khan, Aravelly Avanish Rao (WK), Saumy Kumar Pandey (VC), Murugan Abhishek, Dhanush Gowda, Aaradhya Shukla, Raj Limbani and Naman Tiwari

India's fixtures in group stage

Opponent Date
vs Bangladesh January 20
vs Ireland January 25
vs USA January 28

India’s title wins at the tournament

2002: Sri Lanka hosted the third edition of the tournament, where neighbours India got their hands on the trophy for the first time – a feat they went on to achieve four more times – after defeating the hosts by six wickets in the Final.

Yuvraj Singh was named the Player of the Tournament, an achievement he famously repeated nine years later at the highest level as India lifted the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup at home in 2011. South Africa’s Graeme Smith finished as the leading run-getter.

2008: The 2008 U19 World Cup is widely remembered for catapulting three of the modern-day ‘Fab Four’ into the limelight. Kane Williamson was the opposite number to Virat Kohli in the semi-final while Steve Smith, then known more for his all-round ability, made an impact with the bat and ball throughout the tournament.

India’s misery in 2006 – when they lost to Pakistan in the final – turned to glory in 2008 when they got their hands on the trophy for the second time under Kohli’s leadership .

India remained undefeated in the tournament, beating South Africa by 12 runs in a rain-truncated game decided by DLS.

2012: The U19 Cricket World Cup returned to Australia for the first time since its inaugural edition.

In the final held in Queensland, India secured a six-wicket victory over the hosts, marking their third U19 World Cup triumph and matching their feat from the inaugural edition.

2018: New Zealand became the first country to host the U19 World Cup thrice, having previously held the tournament in 2002 and 2010.

For the second occasion in a row, the defending champions, this time West Indies, crashed out in the group stages.

In the final, India beat Australia by eight wickets to become four-time champions, the most by any side.

2022: West Indies hosted the U19 Cricket World Cup for the first time.

One of the biggest highlights of the tournament was the performance of Afghanistan, who made it past the group stage and qualified for the semi-final for the very first time, beating Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka along the way.

In the semi-final clash against England, Afghanistan displayed resilience, coming close to a victory but ultimately falling short.

Having faltered in the previous edition on the last step, India redeemed themselves by securing the title against England in the final, marking their fifth U19 World Cup triumph.

New format, same thrill

The upcoming U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup will be a departure from the Plate and Super League format that had been a feature in the previous editions.

The competition retains the same number of teams (16) as in 2022 and divides them into four groups of four sides, as was the case in the last edition. Things, however, get more interesting from here. As many as 12 sides will remain in contention for the ultimate prize after the opening stage – unlike eight in the previous edition.

The top three sides from each group will qualify for the next phase. Here, the top teams from Groups A and D will be clubbed together in what will be known as the Super Six stage, and likewise with the top three teams from groups B and C. They will carry forward their points and net run-rate achieved against fellow Super Six qualifying teams from their respective groups.

Here, each side will play two encounters. These will be against those teams from the corresponding group, who finished at different group stage positions. The top two sides from these groups will then qualify for the knockout stages, comprising the semi-finals and the final, to be held in Benoni on February 11.

Pathway to the tournament

The 11 full member nations who featured in the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022 earned direct qualification for the South Africa event.

These teams were South Africa (2014 champions), Australia ( champions in 1988, 2002, 2010), Afghanistan, Bangladesh (2020), England (1998), India (2000, 2008, 2012, 2018, 2022), Ireland, Pakistan (2004, 2006), Sri Lanka, the West Indies (2016), and Zimbabwe.

For the five remaining spots, teams had to progress via their respective regional qualification tournaments.

Namibia had a near-perfect run in the Africa Qualifier, overcoming next-best Kenya by a comfortable margin of seven wickets, and topping the table with nine points to their name.

The United States started with a confident win against Bermuda. However, they suffered a close loss to Canada in the second game. They lifted themselves thereafter and churned out comprehensive wins, including a seven-wicket success over Canada in their Americas Qualifier rematch. This gave them a significant net run-rate advantage and helped them top the table, sealing their first appearance at an ICC U19 Men’s CWC since 2010.

A thrilling last-gasp win over second-placed United Arab Emirates proved to be the difference for Nepal, whose unbeaten run in the Asia Qualifier helped them earn a ticket to South Africa.

New Zealand, absent from the 2022 showcase, dominated the East Asia-Pacific Qualifier, winning all their games in style.

Scotland made it through the Europe Qualifier unbeaten, ending with a comfortable victory over an emerging Italy in their final match to book their third successive appearance at the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup.

The tournament will be broadcast on the Star Sports Network and streamed live on Disney+Hotstar


With inputs from ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.