U19 WC: Defending champions Windies can’t leave it too late

Windies vs South Africa, Mount Maunganui, Group A

The year 2016 turned out to be a wonderful one for Windies. They won the ICC Under-19 World Cup by defeating India in Bangladesh. The senior teams – men and women – went on to win the ICC World T20 in India.

Two years later, Windies’ senior team is struggling to qualify for the ICC World Cup in England in 2019. And the Under-19 team faces the danger of becoming the first team to be eliminated from the World Cup in this edition in New Zealand. Windies lost their opening clash against New Zealand and now face South Africa. Their last game will be against Kenya but they wouldn’t want to leave it too late and their fate on other results. If Windies go on to lose the clash, New Zealand and South Africa will most likely go through to the quarterfinals.

Keagan Simmons and Kimani Melius struck half-centuries in the first game but no other batsmen managed to go past 26. That’s the first thing they need to rectify and give the bowlers more cushion. The bowling too failed to impress after the below-par show from the batsmen.

One thing is for sure, South Africa will not present anything on the platter to the team from the Caribbean. They were ruthless against Kenya and went on to post the highest total of the tournament so far – 341 – after a century from Raynard van Tonder. Both teams can’t take anything for granted but there’s more at stake for Windies at the moment.


Windies (From): Emmanuel Stewart(c), Kirstan Kallicharan, Ronaldo Alimohamed, Alick Athanaze, Cephas Cooper, Jarion Hoyte, Joshua Persaud, Jeavor Royal, Keagan Simmons, Bhaskar Yadram, Nyeem Young, Kimani Melius, Ashmead Nedd, Kian Pemberton, Raymond Perez.

South Africa (From): Raynard van Tonder(c), Matthew Breetzke, Jean du Plessis, Jason Niemand, Gerald Coetzee, Jade de Klerk, Fraser Jones, Wandile Makwetu, Thando Ntini, Jiveshan Pillay, Hermann Rolfes, Kenan Smith, Akhona Mnyaka, Andile Mokgakane, Kgaudise Molefe.

Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan, Whangarei, Group D

Afghanistan have had a good run so far in the lead up to the World Cup. After their Asia Cup win, they continued to maintain their stranglehold over Pakistan and won the opening encounter by five wickets. The next challenge for them is to find a way to sustain the momentum.

They lost to Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup but will now know better what mistakes they need to polish off. Mujeeb Zadran went wicketless in the opening encounter but the bowling plans will again revolve around him.

Sri Lanka cantered to a seven-wicket win after an unbeaten century from Dhananjaya Lakshan but not before they were made to work hard by Ireland. Kamindu Mendis, the impressive ambidextrous spinner and the Sri Lanka captain, will again have to shoulder much of the burden and ensure his team come up with a clinical performance. But they’ll be well aware Afghanistan aren’t a team they can be taken lightly and are more than capable of springing another surprise.


Sri Lanka (From): Kamindu Mendis (c), Jehan Daniel, Hasitha Boyagoda, Thisaru Rashmika, Krishan Arachchige, Kalana Perera, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Praveen Jayawickrama, Nuwanidu Fernando, Ashen Bandara, Nipun Malinga, Nipun Dananjaya, Nishan Madushka, Hareen Buddhila, Santhush Gunathilaka.

Afghanistan (From): Naveen-ul-Haq (c), Rahmanullah, Mohammad Ibrahim, Darwish Rasooli, Nisar Wahdat, Tariq Stanikzai, Azmatullah, Qais Ahmad, Mujeeb Zadran, Zahir Khan, Yousuf Zazai, Wafadar, Ikram Ali Khil, Baheer Shah, Waqar Ishaqzai.

Zimbabwe vs Australia, Lincoln, Group B

The format and the group they’ve been placed in, Australia have a chance to put their opening loss behind them and entertain hopes of making it to the quarterfinals. They face Zimbabwe first up before taking on PNG in their last group game.

However, in conditions where they were expected to dominate, they came up with a pretty poor performance against India. Their bowlers looked clueless when put under pressure and once the target was past 300, it became quite difficult for their batsmen to stay in the game. Australia will seek a improvement in bowling.

Despite their ten-wicket win over PNG, it’s hard to see Zimbabwe posing any threat to Australia. The team from Down Under need to find their mojo pretty quickly before the knockout stage and it won’t be surprising to see a more ruthless approach against a less fancied opponent.


Zimbabwe (From): Liam Nicholas Roche (c), Gregory Dollar, Tanunurwa Makoni, Jayden Schadendorf, Milton Shumba, Alistair Frost, Dion Myers, Jonathan Connolly, Wesley Madhavere, Kieran Robinson, Robert Chimhinya, Tinashe Nenhunzi, Taun Harrison, Donald Mlambo, Nkosilatu Nunu.

Australia (From): Jason Sangha (c), Will Sutherland, Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant,Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter J Holt, Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Jason Ralston, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh.

New Zealand vs Kenya, Christchurch, Group B

New Zealand will enter the clash against Kenya with one eye on the quarterfinal berth. If South Africa manage to beat Windies and New Zealand beat Kenya then both the hosts and South Africa will progress to the next round.

Kenya were hammered by 169 runs by South Africa in the first game and it’s hard to see why they won’t get rolled over when they take on the hosts. Ahead of the final clash – against Windies – New Zealand players have a very good opportunity to hit the straps and ensure they are ready for more stern tests that’ll come their way as the tournament progresses.

This can also be seen as an opportunity to give a workout to the middle-order that went largely untested in the opening encounter.

For Kenya, there can’t be an overnight improvement that’ll see them set the stage on fire. Hence it becomes crucial they enjoy the contest and get as much out of it as possible because most players are unsure when they’ll get such a stage to play in next.


New Zealand (From): Kaylum Boshier (c), Finn Allen, Max Chu, Katene Clarke, Felix Murray, Sandeep Patel, Dale Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Todd Watson, Connor Sullivan, Callum McLachlan, Ben Lockrose, Luke Georgeson, Matthew Fisher, Jakob Bhula

Kenya (From): Maxwell Ager, Abhishekh Chidambaran, Jay Doshi, Jayant Mepani, Jasraj Kundi, Sukhdeep Singh, Ankit Hirani, Sachin Bhudia (c), Thomas Ochieng, Aveet Desai, Dennis Musyoka, Aman Gandhi, Gerald Muthui, Sidhart Vasudev, Rene Were.

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