U19s: England and WI start well

England and the West Indies were the surprise successes in the warm-up matches ahead of the 2006 ICC Under-19 World Cup, which begins in Sri Lanka on Sunday.

England, who ended a pre-Christmas tour of the subcontinent with eleven defeats from eleven games, shocked favourites India with a battling 28-run win in a low-scoring clash, before following it up with a second solid team effort to defeat South Africa.

The West Indians began their preparations with a resounding 87-run beating of hosts Sri Lanka, and added the scalp of New Zealand in their second game, racking up 603 runs over the two matches.

Sri Lanka and India both bounced back from their defeats to claim victories over Pakistan and Australia respectively. The Australians also lost to Pakistan, on the back of 4-1 defeat in India in 2005 and a draw pitting them with the West Indies and South Africa, who defended 189 against New Zealand in another practice game.

Dark horses Bangladesh and Nepal were two further nations to gain 100% records across their warmup fixtures whilst Ireland, Zimbabwe, Namibia, boasting a bowling attack including the Marx brothers Floris and Hendrik, Uganda, complete with fourteen year old offspinner Emmanuel Nakaana, picked a win apiece. The USA and Scotland went winless.

The pick of Sunday’s games comes as South Africa take on Australia in what could prove to be a critical match in terms of quarter-final qualification. Bangladesh will fancy their chances of defeating New Zealand in another intriguing fixture, whilst Ireland against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka against Scotland are likely to be less competitive.

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