The Bangladesh Under-19 cricket team will leave for New Zealand on December 26 with a target to maintain the position they had achieved in the last ICC Youth World Cup held in Bangladesh in 2016.
Hosts Bangladesh finished third, their best result in the competition, in the last event and while junior team selector Ehsanul Haque was wary of the different conditions in New Zealand, he remained optimistic of the team's ability to retain the hard-earned status when announcing the 15-member squad yesterday for the ICC Under-19 World Cup starting from January 13 next year.
The selectors brought only one change -- left-arm spinner Tipu Sultan replacing Shakhawat Hossain -- to the squad that played the Youth Asia Cup in Malaysia in November this year, where they beat Nepal, Malaysia and India in the group stage before losing the semifinal against Pakistan through the D/L method.
With the conditions in mind, the selectors included four pacers in Robiul Haque, Qazi Onik Islam, Roni Hossen and Hasan Mahmud while Nayeem Hasan and Tipu were the spinners in the squad.
The youth team had not gotten enough opportunities to tune up for the challenging conditions in New Zealand and so a 10-day residential camp will take place in Dunedin to get the players accustomed to the conditions. They will also play three practice matches against local teams.
Before taking the field against Namibia on January 13 in their first Group C match, the Bangladesh Under-19s will play two lead-up games against Pakistan and Afghanistan in Christchurch. The remaining two group matches against Canada and England will be held on January 15 and 18 respectively.
Coach Damien Wright was upbeat about his boys' success in the Asia Cup.
“I think it's a very well-balanced team to go to play in New Zealand and perform particularly well. So I am very confident and I think the boys are in a good space, and played particularly well in the last tournament but it's really important for the guys to continue that success from the last world cup that we hosted here and it's important to make sure that the Bangladesh Under-19 team perform well and make it to semifinals, that's what we're looking at and that's our goal,” said Wright.