Ireland Under 19 skipper Jack Tector admits the squad are massively excited ahead of the U19 World Cup Qualifying tournament which starts this week in Malaysia.
One of the many players keen to make a positive mark and help his nation qualify for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup is Ireland captain Jack Tector who is hopeful of a successful tournament in what he admits will be challenging conditions.
“As a group we are massively excited for the tournament. It gives us the opportunity to improve even further on the good things we did in Jersey. Kuala Lumpur sounds like a great place to play cricket and it will provide us with much different conditions to back home.
"Fortunately a good few of our squad have been to Sri Lanka so we have an idea of what we will be facing weather-wise. Flying out earlier gives us a chance to acclimatise and experience the conditions we will be playing in.
"For every member of our team this is the biggest tournament we have played in to date so obviously there will be a few nerves about, but we cannot wait to get started.”
The U19's experienced mixed fortunes in their two warm-up games losing by 56 runs against the Royal Malaysian Air Force before beating the same opponents by 91 runs.
The five teams competing in the event are regional runners-up Ireland (Europe), Nepal (Asia), Papua New Guinea (East-Asia Pacific), Uganda (Africa) and USA (Americas) and they will be bidding to win the tournament and book the final remaining place in theU19 World Cup which takes place from 22 January to 14 February 2016.
Uganda Head Coach Henry Okecho believes that it is important to start well as the side bids to qualify for its third U19 Cricket World Cup, having previously qualified for the 2004 (Bangladesh) and 2006 (Sri Lanka) tournaments.
“We are eagerly looking forward to competing in Kuala Lumpur this week and hopefully hit the ground running. We are well aware that the conditions will be a great challenge but we feel that we have prepared adequately and should handle these conditions pretty well and the mental fluctuations that will come with it.
"This is a very important tournament for cricket in Uganda as we look to qualify and play in our third U19 World Cup.”
Nepal Coach Jagat Tamata, whose side faces Papua New Guinea in the opening round in Kinrara Oval on Friday, said: “We feel now the Nepalese team is mentally strong as well as physically fit and over the last two months our team has been very hard working in preparation. We played some practice matches in Delhi following an official invitation from BCCI.
"It is a great opportunity for the U19 national cricket team to become the final qualifier and our main target is to qualify for the U19 World Cup.”
Dipak Patel, the former New Zealand international and current Head Coach of Papua New Guinea hopes that his side can book its passage to India. “The PNG Garramuts are looking forward to the challenge in Kuala Lumpur. They have worked very hard in PNG with very limited resources and game-time.
"The squad have spent a few days in Singapore acclimatising and getting some invaluable preparation and we've had mixed results. Importantly, they're learning a lot and are continuing to grow as cricketers. We are comfortable that the squad has prepared well and we're looking forward to the games.”
The final of the U19 World Cup is scheduled to be held in Bangladesh but it's understood this is being reviewed in light of the current security situation and Australia's recent withdrawal from a scheduled tour.
Match Officials: Graeme La Brooy (Match Referee), Tabarak Dar, Vinay Kumar Jha, Sarika Prasad (Mentor Umpire), Ahmad Shah Pakteen, Ian Thomson, Kalidas Viswanadan
IRELAND: Jack Tector (captain), Rory Anders, Andrew Austin, Varun Chopra, Sonny Cott, Adam Dennison, Aaron Gillespie, Joshua Little, Gary McClintock, William McClintock, James Mitchell, Tom Stanton, Lorcan Tucker, Benjamin White
NEPAL: Raju Rijal (captain), Kushal Bhurtel, Sunil Dhamala, Sushil Kandel, Yogendra Singh Karki, Saurabh Khanal, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi, Shankar Rana, MD Arif Sheikh, Dipesh Shrestha, Rajbir Singh, Dipendra Singh Airee, Sandeep Sunar, Prem Tamang
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Sinaka Harry Arua, Ovia Boge, Jack Dairi, Arua Gau, Doura Iruna Gavera, Harry Christopher Gavera, Lohia Guba, Vagi Guba, Vagi Miria John, Vagi Karoho, Vagi Boko Kora, Sere Sam, Lou Vagi Toua, Nou Mavara Ako Toua
UGANDA: Derrick Bakunzi (captain), Brian Adriko, Frank Akankwasa, Zephania Arinaitwe, Trevor Bukenya, Joseph Byaruhanga, John Gabula, Abdalah Lubega, Simon Okecho, Collines Okwalinga, Ashiraf Senkubuge, David Wabwire, Steven Wabwose, Kenneth Waiswa
USA: Alexander Shoff (captain), Mohak Buch, Srihari Dasarathy, Kushal Ganji, Tohidul Islam, Vivek Narayan, Gaurav Patanker, Arjun Patel, Sagar Patel, Sahil Patel, Keifer Phill, Anup Rao, Gauranshu Sharma, Anirudh Srinivas