Inaugural Women’s U-19 World Cup: Young Players Finally Get Global Platform To Shine

Young female players will get their much awaited opportunity to shine on the global stage when the inaugural U-19 Women’s World Cup begins in Benoni, South Africa on Saturday. While the International Cricket Council has staged 14 Men’s U-19 World Cup editions since 1988, the future stars of the women’s game will finally get the much needed exposure they were craving for. Women’s cricket has grown massively over the past five years but there is still a pressing need to unearth more talent to popularise the game further.

A total of 41 games will be played across four venues in Benoni and Potchefstroom. The 16-team event was supposed to be held in 2021 but was pushed back to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 11 full members — Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe — automatically qualified for the tournament.

They have been joined by a team each from ICC’s five regions — the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates, Rwanda, Scotland and Indonesia.

India are clubbed alongside hosts South Africa, Scotland and UAE in Group C. The Shafali Verma-led side opens its campaign against South Africa on Saturday.

Besides Shafali, Richa Ghosh is another international player in the India squad.

Ahead of the opening day, the 16 captains assembled for their historical photo at Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg.

The future India stars were given the opportunity to engage with the legendary Mithali Raj about her vast World Cup experience and received insight on how to tackle game day nerves, bouncing back from losses, leadership styles and how to grow.

After the meeting India captain Shafali said: “You can’t help but feel like you’re part of something new and historic. Today’s captains’ photo was definitely one of my standout moments of the build-up so far. It was such a festive atmosphere. We’re excited for our first match on Saturday.” India had played a bilateral series with South Africa in the lead up to the event.

Australia, the most dominant team on the senior circuit, will be expected to win the title at the junior level as well.

“It was pretty cool being able to meet all the other captains and being able to see the trophy up close made me pretty itchy to get the win.

“It’s been a pretty hectic few days since we’ve gotten to South Africa, we’ve either been training or playing (warm-up) games or doing lots of talks but it’s been pretty good to get a look at the other teams. We’re excited for Saturday, definitely,” said Australia Captain Rhys McKenna.

Due to Taliban’s restrictions on women and girls, Afghanistan has not fielded a team for the first ever U-19 Women’s World Cup.

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

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