The 11th match of the ICC Under 19 World Cup is being played at Bloemfontein between India and Japan today. Prior to this Japan has participated in Olympics as well as other athletic competitions but this is the first time that Japan will feature in a Cricket World Cup and up against them are defending champions- India.
While half of the Indian stars are part of their respective Ranji sides, some of them even have an IPL contract. It remains to be seen how an inexperienced Japan side plays against a star studded Indian lineup. However, their journey to reach this World Cup has been quite an interesting one.
How did Japan qualify for the U19 World Cup?
Japan has qualified for this U19 World Cup on merely technical reasons. Before June 2019, Japan had only won the Youth Games. Japan participated in the 2020 Under 19 World Cup only because it had hosted the East Asia Pacific region qualifier for the U19 World Cup.
Although Japan were the eventual champions, they were declared winners not because of their performance but the opposition did not turn up for the match.
Notably, the final match was against Papua New Guinea, but they did not turn up for the match and hence Japan were declared the winners.
Papua New Guinea’s reason for not participating in the final was also rather strange. The cricket board of the country decided to suspend 11 of 14 players in the squad and only 3 players were eligible to play for the final. Since 3 cricketers cannot form a cricket team, Papua New Guinea withdrew from the final.
Although Japan did not feature in the final, they had defeated other teams like Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa quite comprehensively to reach the finals.
Established Cricket Board-36 years ago
Japan Cricket Association was established 36 years ago in 1984. 11 years after this in 1995, ICC made them an associate member. Post this, Japan has played regular cricket. The first big tournament came in 2008 when Japan featured in ICC Cricket World League Division five tournament. This is an ODI tournament played between five non-test playing nations.
Gradually, Japan improved and have finally made their way to this Under 19 Cricket World Cup.