Christchurch, Jan 12 Considered as the stepping stone to the big league, the 12th edition of the ICC Under-19 World Cup will witness 16 teams, including the Rahul Dravid-coached Indian colts in action, starting in New Zealand from Saturday.
The opening day of the 22-day tournament will witness four matches, including those featuring defending champions the West Indies and two-time champions Pakistan.
On Saturday, the Windies face New Zealand in a day-night fixture in Tauranga while Pakistan take on dark horses Afghanistan in Whangarei.
In other matches on the opening day to be played here, Bangladesh take on Namibia and Papua New Guinea play Zimbabwe.
From Virat Kohli to Steve Smith to Kane Williamson, most modern-day greats have learnt the ropes in the biennial event, which has gained significance with every passing edition.
Three-time champions India will be eager to bank on their strong stow in the warm-up tie against South Africa when the Prithvi Shaw-led side open their campaign against Group B counterparts Australia at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui on Sunday.
The 16 teams have been divided into four groups of four teams each.
Along side India and Australia, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe are also part of the Group B while Group A consists of Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies.
Bangladesh, Canada, England and Namibia form Group C while Group D comprises Afghanistan, Ireland, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
After opening their campaign against the Australians, the Indians will take on Papua New Guinea on February 16 at Mount Maunganui before facing Zimbabwe at the same venue on January 19.
All teams in each group will play each other once. The top two from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals. The top four will qualify for the semi-finals.
The final will be played on February 3 at Mount Maunganui.