Defending champions Pakistan will be looking for a hat-trick of the International Cricket Council's Under-19 Cricket World Cup title when they meet hosts Malaysia at the inaugural match of Group A of the tournament at Johor February 17.
Besides Pakistan, Malaysia, Zimbabwe and New Zealand too have been placed in the group A.
Pakistan, however, are likely to face a stiff competition in their second match, February 19, from the 1998 finalists New Zealand, whom they have defeated in 2004 and 2006 tournaments.
Pakistan, captained by Imad Waseem, has shown potential to make history and have won the tri-nation series in Colombo, Sri Lanka, last week beating both the hosts and England along the way.
Besides Waseem, the players to watch out for in the Pakistan team are Umar Akmal, younger brother of Kamran, the senior team wicketkeeper, who had an outstanding season in first-class, scoring 851 runs, and Ahmad Shezhad. On the bowling front, fast bowler Adil Raza, who took four wickets in the series against Australia under-19s and eight wickets in the Bangladesh series, will be the pace spearhead.
New Zealand's attack has the highly promising fast bowler Timothy Southee, who may well make his ODI debut against England in the forthcoming series.
Zimbabwe will be hoping to repeat its outstanding start to the 2006 tournament when it recorded victories in all three of their group matches, including a stunning two-wicket win over England.
The team will be looking up to skipper Prince Masvaure, a gifted batsman who can also swing both the new as well as the old ball.
In their build-up to the tournament, the Malaysians enjoyed a month-long tour of Bangladesh. The team revolves around proven performers. Much is expected of spin duo - 16-year-old Nik Azril Arifi and Shahruinzam Yusof as well as medium-pacer Sarath Ananthasiva
The winner of the group will meet runners-up of Group D that comprises England, Bangladesh, Bermuda and Ireland, while the runners-up of Group A will face the winners of Group D.
Group A (based in Johor, seeding in brackets)
Pakistan (1), Zimbabwe (8), New Zealand (9), Malaysia (16)
17 Feb - Pakistan v Malaysia, Johor Cricket Academy (JCA)
18 Feb - Zimbabwe v New Zealand, JCA
19 February - Pakistan v New Zealand, Maktab Perguruan Temenggong Ibrahim (MPTI), Johor
20 February - Malaysia v Zimbabwe, MPTI, Johor
21 February - New Zealand v Malaysia, KCA, Johor
22 February - Pakistan v Zimbabwe, MPTI, Joho
Group A Squads:
Imad Wasim (captain), Umar Amin, Ali Asad, Shahzaib Ahmed Khan, Ahmad Shahzad, Muhammad Amir, Muhammad Azhar Attari, Usman Salah-ud-Din, Muhammad Junaid Khan, Umair Mir, Umar Akmal, Muhammad Rameez, Shaan Khan, Mirza Ahsan, Adil Raza.
Prince Masvaure (captain), Tinashe Chimbambo, Tendai Chitongo, Hughes Dinembira, Justin Gaisford, Kyle Jarvis, Edzai Jaure, Daniel Landman, Stewart Matsika, Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Confidence Mutombodzi, Njabulo Ncube, Reginald Nehonde, Tendai Mashonganyika.
Corey Anderson, Nicholas Beard, Harry Boam, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Tamati Clarke, Fraser Colson, Michael Guptill-Bunce, Greg Morgan, Jeet Raval, Hamish Rutherford, Timothy Southee, Anurag Verma, Kane Williamson, George Worker.
Ahmad Faiz (captain), Aminudin Ramly, Faris Rosmanizam, Mohamad Fauzi, Mohamad Norwira, Mohammed Miran, Mohammad Kasman, Mohammad Shafiq, Mohammad Shahrulnizam, Mohammad Suharril Fetri, Muhamad Nik Azril, Muhammad Faizal, Sarath Ananthasivam, Shahid Aslan, Sarvana Raj.