The warm-ups are over and it is time for the main event to begin as the ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup gets underway on Friday. Hosts West Indies will hope to put their indifferent form in the warm-ups behind them as they kick things off in the Group D curtain-raiser against Australia at Providence Stadium, Guyana. Floyd Reifer’s side slipped to heavy defeats against India and South Africa in the build-up, failing to cross the 200-barrier with the bat on both occasions.
However, the coach is not concerned about his side’s ability to score big, saying, “I think the batting comes down to the mindset of the players in terms of spending some more time at the crease and building some more partnerships.
“I would say the warm-up games that we have played were two low-scoring games, so I wouldn’t want to put too much emphasis on that. Yes, we know as a batting unit there are certain things we want to accomplish, guys building on starts and these are things we are discussing,” he added.
“I’m confident in the lads, we have a talented bunch of cricketers, we have some good batters here, it’s just a matter for us now to just do the one percenters right and then we will respond with some consistency,” he said.
Australia also have plenty of questions to answer after a nine-wicket defeat to India in their only warm-up encounter but with two progressing from Group D, which also includes Scotland and Sri Lanka, their captain Cooper Connolly is still bullish about his side’s chances.
“[The India defeat] was a reality check for us against one of the strongest sides, maybe the favourite,” said Connolly, who was part of the Australia side that lost in the quarter-finals in South Africa two years ago.
“But our team is checking out really well and I feel like we’re in good shape for the first game. We can’t start off really easy, we’ve got to beat the West Indies and come out with a strong mindset. Hopefully we can knock them over,” he added.
Scotland were bowled out for 138 in a seven-wicket defeat to Ireland in their warm-up game but beat Uganda in their opening hit out and will be looking to carry the momentum from their win against the Baby Cricket Cranes into the group stages.
Captain Charlie Peet said: “We are not here to make up the numbers, we are just going to try and enjoy the experience and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.”
Sri Lanka will be a threat for everyone after two very impressive warm-up wins over Uganda and Ireland, racking up 510 runs across both games. They will look to continue that good form into their opener against the Scots in Guyana on Friday.
Defending champions Bangladesh are aiming to defend the crown they won in 2020 but have had mixed preparations after beating Zimbabwe but losing to Pakistan – who look to be the early favourites in Group C – in the build-up.
Their opening Group A game is against England in St Kitts and Nevis on Sunday and skipper Rakibul Hasan, who was part of the victorious 2020 squad, insists they are starting to adjust to the Caribbean conditions.
He said, “The conditions in St Kitts are not that tough, we have been here for two weeks now, so we have adjusted to the conditions and also playing two practice games is good preparation for us, so we are looking forward to playing England and hopefully we can get off to a good start.”
England have shown some good form the warm-ups racking up 359 for seven in the 281-run victory over Papua New Guinea.
George Thomas and captain Tom Prest were both dismissed in the 90s but will be hoping to push on and reach batting milestones in the tournament proper, where they will also face the UAE and Canada.
Prest said, “We’ve come over here with the intention of winning the tournament. That’s kind of our ultimate goal as a side. Bangladesh is our first game – that should be a great test for us. Obviously, they won the last World Cup, but we’re very hopeful we can get out of the group stage and then into the knockout tournament.”
Group B explodes into life when India and South Africa face off on Saturday with both having seen off the tournament hosts in their preparations.
The two big-hitters will also face Uganda and Ireland, who also play each other on Saturday. The Irish could be a surprise package and are led by Tim Tector, the third consecutive Tector brother, after Jack and Harry, to captain his country at this tournament.
He said, “We have Uganda first up and our focus is on that first, we are pretty confident for that game but you’ve got to take it one game at a time. India will be a different challenge in itself – none of us have ever played a game on TV before so that part about it will be a bit different.”
“There’s always going to be a few nerves about playing those big games, but I think when the time comes and when we step over the rope we will be ready to go. Hopefully, we beat Uganda in the first game and then if we win one of the other two games we will be in the Super League and that will be a massive achievement for Cricket Ireland but if not we will go to Trinidad and try and get as far as we can in the plate,” the captain added.
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