A quick glance at the make-up of Group D of ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup shows just how challenging it will be to make it out of the first round.
Hosts West Indies won the tournament back in 2016, Australia are three-time champions and Sri Lanka also have a final appearance to their name.
Scotland round out the group in their ninth appearance in the competition, qualifying after New Zealand were forced to withdraw due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Australia (13th appearance)
Only India have won the ICC U19 Men’s CWC more times than Australia’s three titles, with Australia also second in terms of matches won and win percentage.
In fact in 12 previous appearances, Australia have made it through to at least the semi-finals on eight occasions, they are remarkably consistent.
The last win came back in 2010, a team featuring Mitchell Marsh, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood, who 11 years later would play key roles as Australia claimed the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
This time around, all-rounder Cooper Connolly will lead the side, and he will have fond memories of taking on the host nation. In 2020 he hammered 64 off 53 balls against the West Indies in a play-off match that was eventually abandoned due to rain.
He is the only player who returns from the 2020 squad, but will not lack for support, notably from ambidextrous spinner Nivethan Radhakrishnan.
Scotland (9th appearance)
Scotland initially missed out on qualification after losing to Ireland in the final of the Qualifier, but were handed a reprieve when New Zealand withdrew from the competition.
The Scots are yet to make it past the first round, and face a battle to do so for the first time in 2022 with the strength of the group.
Gordon Drummond is the coach of the side, which will be captained by 18-year-old left-arm spinner Charlie Peet.
The Scots will not lack for experience, with Peet one of five players who were also part of the squad two years ago.
Sri Lanka (14th appearance)
Sri Lanka will be looking for an improved showing after going out in the first round in each of the last two editions of the ICC Men’s U19 CWC.
Semi-finalists in 2016 with a squad featuring Avishka Fernando, Charith Asalanka and Wanindu Hasaranga, they have twice finished third in their group since.
The aim will be to avoid a third straight failure to make the quarter-finals, but the group in which they find themselves will not be easy.
Matheesha Pathirana is back in the squad after playing in 2020 when Sri Lanka finished 10th overall.
Dunith Wellalage will captain the side having previously withdrawn from a Sri Lanka U19 squad to focus on his studies.
West Indies (14th appearance)
An ever-present at this tournament, hosts West Indies will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the 2016 side that went all the way and won the title.
To do so, they will have to overcome the odds. Not since Australia in the very first tournament back in 1998 has a host nation won the tournament, although Sri Lanka and Australia have both made it to the final on home soil.
The 2016 crop that won the title were captained by Shimron Hetmyer, with another future international, Alzarri Joseph, leading the bowling attack.
If recent matches against South Africa are anything to go by, the bowling may be the West Indies’ strength once again with quick bowler Johann Layne one to watch out for.
Middle order batter Ackeem Auguste captains the side which kicks off against Australia in Guyana before heading to St Kitts and Nevis for the remaining two group games.