The Dubai International Stadium is gearing up for a massive three weeks of cricketing action as it prepares to host 10 matches in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup (ICC U19 CWC) including a blockbuster India VS Pakistan clash on Saturday February 15.
It is the latest chapter in Dubai Sports City’s biggest ever cricket season following on from 15 days of top-class action involving the senior teams of Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka, as well as matches in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier.
The action in the ICC U19 CWC at the Dubai International Stadium gets underway on Friday with South Africa taking on the West Indies, while the ICC Academy is staging eight matches in the tournament – four each on the two ovals at the venue.
The Dubai International Stadium is also hosting both semifinals, and the final on March 1, with all three of those games taking place as day-night fixtures, with the famous Ring of Fire floodlights in operation.
And with free entry for all matches it is a great opportunity for fans to get a first look at the world’s future stars as the tournament has previously featured players of the calibre of Brian Lara, Virat Kohli, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, Alastair Cook and Graeme Smith.
Commenting on the upcoming matches and the season so far, Dubai Sports City General Manager – Sports Business Maqbul Dudhia said: “The fact we are hosting so many big games in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, including the meeting between India and Pakistan, both semifinals and the final is a huge feather in the cap for Dubai Sports City.
“That is a clear indication the Dubai International Stadium is recognised by the ICC as an outstanding venue for major matches.
“Since opening its doors in 2009 the Dubai International Stadium has already staged more Twenty20 Internationals than any other venue in the world, and it has also hosted matches in, and the finals of, the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier events in 2010 and 2012.
“The decision to stage so many important matches in this tournament at the venue is a further recognition of the feedback we have received from spectators, broadcasters, the media, players and officials – that the Dubai International Stadium is a great place to play and watch cricket.
“Every seat of the 25,000 we have at the venue offers a fantastic view of the action. The pitch, thanks to head curator Tony Hemming and his team, is outstanding, and when our famous Ring of Fire floodlights are burning brightly for day-night action, there can be few better places in the world to be if you are a cricket fan.
“Tony and his team deserve special praise for ensuring the venue is ready for action as we are in the midst of Dubai Sports City’s busiest ever season of cricket.
“We have already hosted 15 days of international cricket at the Dubai International Stadium involving Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka, as well as matches and numerous training sessions around the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier at the ICC Academy.
“The ICC Academy, too, is incredibly busy with eight matches during the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup on its two ovals, having staged 20 matches during the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier.
“We are proud to be such a hub for the world of cricket over the course of this season and we look forward to that continuing long into the future – starting with this action in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.”
India and Pakistan have already played each other at the Dubai International Stadium as they met there in the Asian Cricket Council Under 19s Asian Cup on New Year’s Eve.
Pakistan won that match by two wickets but India got revenge in the final of the tournament, securing the title by 40 runs.
Saturday’s India vs Pakistan clash is a repeat of the final of the 2006 ICC U19 CWC, a low-scoring thriller played in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which Pakistan won by 38 runs to retain the title it won two years earlier in Bangladesh.
That match in Colombo featured a host of future stars including Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Nasir Jamshed and Sarfraz Ahmed.
Since then, India has secured ICC U19 CWC titles in both 2008 and 2012 and so enters this year’s tournament as the defending champion.
Looking ahead to the tournament on the ICC’s website, www.icc-cricket.com, India captain Sanju Samson said: “I feel very happy we are the defending champions (and) when we walk onto the ground we feel very proud we are playing for India.
“It feels good to be the champions so let us see what happens this time.”
Pakistan captain Sami Aslam added: “It is a great achievement for a player to play in the (ICC Under 19 Cricket) World Cup because it is a step to move into the national side.”
The full schedule for the ICC U19 CWC can be found here: http://www.icc-cricket.com/u19-world-cup/fixtures
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