Townsville (Australia): India will take on West Indies on Sunday in their first game of the ICC Under-19 World Cup which will kick-off on Saturday with three-time champion Australia beginning their title defence against England.
India has an exceptional record to show in this event, winning the 2000 and 2008 editions besides reaching the final in 2006.
India captain Unmukt Chand said his side was fully prepared for the event. "The team wears a settled look. We have played three tournaments over the past few months - a quadrangular series in India, another in Australia, and then the Asia Cup in Malaysia. We won the first two tournaments, and were joint winners in the third," he said.
"The boys are used to playing with each other, and confidence levels are very high. We also have an excellent support staff. We are looking forward to the World Cup, and hope to emulate our predecessors of 2000 and 2008. We are bound to face challenges, with so many quality teams in the fray. However, what might work in our favour is that we have played in Australia, as recently as April 2012. It should not take us long to acclimatise and adjust to the conditions in Australia," he added.
Though West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite picked Australia as his favourite, he believed his side was equally capable of winning the tournament. "Australia will be the favourite because they won the last World Cup and now they are on their home turf. [But] I believe we can win the event [too]. We just need to believe in ourselves, go out there and play as a team and to our full potential. We are motivated and it would be great to win the title for the people of the West Indies," Braithwaite said.
"As a team, we will be looking to show the world our talent and that West Indies cricket has a bright future. Every team will be looking to win the event and our approach will be the same. There is a lot to play for," he concluded.
The opening day of the event will also see two-time champion Pakistan take on neighbours Afghanistan at John Blanck Oval, while Asian rivals Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will lock horns at Endeavour Park 1. Zimbabwe will meet Papua New Guinea (PNG) at Allan Border Field in Brisbane.
The 16 sides, including 10 Full Members and six qualifiers (Afghanistan, Ireland, Namibia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Scotland), have been equally divided into four groups, with the two top sides from each group to qualify for the Super League stage, and the bottom two sides from each group to compete in the Plate Championship.
The Plate final will be staged on August 24 in Brisbane, while the Super League final will be held at Tony Ireland Stadium on August 26.
Australia is the most successful team in the history of the tournament, having won titles in 1988 (Australia), 2002 and 2010 (both in New Zealand). In addition to this, they twice appeared in the semi-finals (2000 and 2006), while in 2008 in Malaysia, they reached the quarter-finals.
With the event once again returning to familiar territories, Australia will start off as firm favourite to win the title for the fourth time, which will also make them the second team after Pakistan to win back-to-back titles. Pakistan achieved the feat in 2004 and 2006.
India Squad: Unmukt Chand (Captain), Akshdeep Nath (Vice Captain), Manan Vohra, Akhil Herwadkar, Vijay Zol, Sandipan Das, B. Aparajith, Prashant Chopra, Sandeep Sharma, Kamal Passi, Rush Kalaria, Mohsin Sayyed, Smit Patel (wk), Harmeet Singh and Vikas Mishra.