Defending champions Windies will face hosts New Zealand in Tauranga, while Pakistan play Afghanistan in Whangarei, Bangladesh take on Namibia in Christchurch and Zimbabwe go up against PNG in Queenstown on the opening day (January 13) of the 16-team Under-19 World Cup in 2018.
The 10 Test-playing nations (before the inclusion of Afghanistan and Ireland) made a direct entry into the tournament, alongside Namibia, who were the best-performing Associate nation from the last edition of the tournament in 2016. Namibia surpassed expectations by making it to the quarterfinals of the event, after beating Scotland and South Africa in their first two fixtures.
"The ICC U19 World Cup plays an important role in the progression of young talent onto the global stage. The list of past and current players who had their first taste of a major event at this tournament is a long one and I have no doubt we'll be witnessing some of tomorrow's stars in New Zealand next year," ICC Head of Events, Chris Tetley, said.
While Windies, New Zealand, South Africa and qualifier Kenya make up Group A, the Group B has 2016 finalists India, Australia, Zimbabwe and qualifier Papua New Guinea. Bangladesh, Canada, England and Namibia comprise Group C and, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, qualifier Afghanistan and Scotland form Group D.
This is the 11th edition of the Under-19 World Cup, and third to be played in New Zealand, where matches will be played across seven venues. Fans in New Zealand will have the chance to watch all the matches, spread across 22 days, for free. "This will be the most accessible international event ever staged throughout New Zealand, with free entry to all games, so we look forward to opening the gates to our match venues in a little under five months' time," Tournament Director Brendan Bourke said.