It was Millennium year as the third Under 19 World cup took place in Sri Lanka. Ireland were joined by Holland who were appearing in the finals for the first time both having qualified the previous year in Belfast through the ECC Under 19 Championships
The format for the tournament was the same as in South Africa two years previously with the nine Test nations being joined by Bangladesh, Kenya, Ireland, Namibia, Holland, Nepal and a team from the Americas. The only addition was the inclusion of semi-finals in both the Plate and Super League competitions.
Holland were in group 2 along with India New Zealand and Bangladesh whilst Ireland were in pool 4 with hosts Sri Lanka, Australia and Namibia. In the other groups England the holders were drawn with The Americas, West Indies and Zimbabwe in 1 with group 3 consisting of Kenya Pakistan Nepal and South Africa.
The West Indies with Ryan Hinds and Marlon Samuels again in their squad and supplemented with the addition of Jermaine Lawson were undefeated in the preliminary rounds and along with England who had Tim Murtagh, Alex Loudon Ian Bell and Gary Pratt playing progressed to the Super League from Group I.
In Group 2 Holland found life difficult losing to New Zealnd by 147 runs in a match reduced to 32 overs. New Zealand with Brendon McCullum and James Franklin in their side scored 206 for the loss of 5 wickets and against tight bowling with Gareth Hayne taking 3 for 9 in 7 overs they could only muster 55 runs for the loss of 9 wickets. They fared slightly better against India being dismissed for 58 with Yuvraj Singh taking 3 for 4 and had India reduced to 15 for 3 when rain intervened and the match finished as no result. In the final match against Bangladesh rain again caused problems with Bangladesh winning by 41 runs under D/L. The Dutch made 137 all out in 46.5 0vers and Bangladesh were 119 for 5 in 25.3 overs when the match was abandoned. With rain problems no play was possible between New Zealand and Bangladesh whish in the end resulted in New Zealand joining India in the latter stages on run rate.
It was a similar story in group 3 with rain ruining the section. South Africa were unlucky to have 3 no results which only accumulated three points and Nepal with 1 no result and defeat of Kenya by 14 runs went through in second place along with Pakistan. It was most unfortunate that rain days had not been factored into the tournament.
Ireland also found the going tough in their opening match in group 4 going down to defeat from the hosts by 8 wickets in their opening match Batting first they could only muster 134 all out with Ryan Haire top scoring with 39. In reply Sri Lanka reached their target in the 24th over thanks to an unbeaten 72 from Gerald Daniel. In their second match against Australia, who had Michael Clarke Nathan Hauritz in their side, there was a much improved performance when they chased a target of 240 losing by 63 runs. Seven Irish batsmen got into double figures but none could go on to make the big score that was required and Hauritz with 2 for 32 and Clarke 3 for 17 saw Australia home. In their final game against Namibia it was even closer in another rain interrupted match. Ireland won the toss and elected to field and they restricted Namibia to 186 from their 48 overs. In reply Dominic Joyce made 43 and Andrew White 28 as the Irish closed their innings on 127 after 36 overs and with the D/L calculation the match ended in a tie.
Hosts Sri Lanka went through the group stages unbeaten and were joined by Australia.
In the Super Leagues Pakistan and India were unbeaten and they met Sri Lanka and Australia respectively. India thanks to a century from Ravneet Ricky and useful contributions from Manish Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Reetinder Sodhi set Australia a target of 284 which they fell 170 runs short of thanks to tight bowling with Anup Singh taking 3 for 25 and Mohammad Kaif and Shalabh Srivastava giving him good support.
In the other semi final much to the delight of home crowd Sri Lanka edged home by 10 runs in a thrilling match. The home side posed 219 runs in their innings and a strong Pakistan side which included Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, Danish Kaneria and Yasir Arafat who has played for the Scottish Saltires over the last two seasons fell tantalisingly close.
In the final in front of a crowd of 5000 Sri Lanka could not repeat their exploits going down by 6 wickets. The home side posted a total of 178 with Jehan Mubarak top scoring with 58. In reply with solid contributions from all their batsmen India reached the target with the loss of 4 wickets and 9 overs to spare.
In the Plate competition Ireland and Holland met in group 2 with the Irish coming out on top in a close match. Ireland batting first made 149 for 8 wickets in their 40 over allocation thanks to Dominic Joyce's 59. In reply Holland fell 19 runs short with Adeel Raja top scoring 43. Connor Armstrong was the pick of the Irish bowlers finishing with the commendable figures of 3 for 13 in 6 overs.
Ireland set up a group decider with South Africa when in their next game they defeated the Americas by 85 runs. Andrew White with 76 helped the Irish to finish on 183 and no Americas batsmen could get on top of the Irish attack with John Mooney the pick finishing with 3 for 25.
In the section decider the Irish however fell to a comprehensive defeat at the Springboks. Batting first they could only muster 78 and the South Africans knocked the runs off without loss in 13.4 overs. However they Irish had the consolation of qualifying for the Plate Semi finals where they met Bangladesh who had come through the other section unbeaten.
Holland also secured victory against the Americas. Batting first they posted 226 for 7 with Ejaz Nawaz 58 not out and Karman Shafiq 49 they main contributors. In reply despite a defiant 91 from Bermudan Chris Foggo the Americas fell agonisingly 7 runs short when their fifty overs were completed. In their other match the Dutch were also defeated by South Africa going down heavily by 154 runs. South Africa with future Test captain Graeme Smith scoring 44 and Johannes Myburgh 53 closed on 278 for 6.In reply only Reinout van Ierschot with 31 put up any resistance as the Dutch closed on 124 for 8.
In the Plate semi finals South Africa had an easy 8 wicket victory over Zimbabwe restricting them to 179 for 7 and with Graeme Smith 82 not out made the target with 14 overs to spare. In the other semi final Ireland went down by 67 runs to Bangladesh. They restricted them to 196 in just under the fify overs with Andrew White returning figures of 2 for 28 off 10 overs.In reply they lost their first two wicket with only six runs on the board despite 36 from Niall O'Brien were all out for 129 with over 6 overs remaining.
In the Plate final Graeme Smith again starred with the bat top scoring with 51 off 62 balls. He was well supported by all the other batsmen especially Jonathon Trott now of Warwickshire who made 41. In reply Bangladesh were never in contention with only Hannan Sarkar with 51 showing any resistance as they fell 80 runs short.