Dubai: Former champions India were on Monday handed a relatively easy draw in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup and will open their campaign against the West Indies on August 12.
India have been clubbed with Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea besides the West Indies in Group C, and will play their first match at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville, Queensland.
India have reached the zenith of glory at this tournament twice -- Mohammad Kaif put his hands on the glittering trophy in Sri Lanka in 2000 and then Virat Kohli led the team to a well-deserved triumph in Malaysia in 2008.
India will play their second match, against Zimbabwe on August 14 at the same venue, two days before taking on Papua New Guinea at Endeavour Park 1.
Defending champions Australia will aim to match Pakistan`s achievement when they launch the defence of the title against traditional rival and former champions England on the opening day of the 16-day tournament on August 11.
Together with Australia and England, also in action in Townsville on the opening day will be Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea who will face each other at Endeavour Park 1, while four Asian rivals will go head to head in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast with Sri Lanka meeting Bangladesh at the Allan Border Field and Pakistan taking on Afghanistan at the John Blanck Oval.
Australia are the most successful team in the history of the under-19 Cricket World Cup, having won the title thrice in 1988, 2002 and 2010.
However, Pakistan are the only side which has won back-to-back titles when it won the top laurels in 2004 and 2006 in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, respectively.
"In 1988 the event was staged as part of the Australian Bicentenary celebrations and it is now one of our focal tournaments providing the best young cricketers in the world with an opportunity to test their skills," ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said.
Queensland Minister for Sport Phil Reeves said the tournament will deliver an economic boost to the State`s host communities.
"Hosting the ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup 2012 is great news for the Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Brisbane, attracting 400 players and officials from 16 countries with an expected 7,000 bed nights for the local tourism industry," said Reeves.
The 16 teams have been divided into four groups with the top two progressing to the Super League quarter-finals while the two bottom teams from each group qualifying for the Plate Championship quarter-finals.
The winners of the Super League quarter-finals will qualify for the semi-finals whereas the losing quarter-finalists will play in the Super League play-offs.
The winners of the Plate Championship quarter-finals will play in the Plate Championship semi-finals while the beaten quarter-finalists will participate in the Plate Championship play-offs.
A total of 48 matches, including 24 in the first round, 12 in the Super League and 12 in the Plate Championship will be played at eight venues-- Tony Ireland Stadium, Endeavour Park 1, Endeavour Park 2 (all in Townsville), Allan Border Field, Peter Burge Oval (Redlands DCC), WEP Harris Oval (in Brisbane) John Blanck Oval and Kev Hackney Oval (on the Sunshine Coast).
The Super League Final is slated for August 26, two days after the Plate final.
The ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup 2014 will be staged in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).