|U-19 cricket looking beyond group stage|
|Saturday, 04 August 2012 00:00|
ZIMBABWE Under-19 cricket captain, Matthew Bentley, has rallied his team to do well at ICC Under-19 World Cup which begins next weekend in Brisbane, Australia. Speaking shortly before the team’s departure at Harare International Airport yesterday, the skipper said the team has a good chance to proceed beyond their group where they have been drawn against two-time champions India, West Indies and New Papua Guinea.
“We obviously fancy our chances, we have Papa New Guinea and we are hoping to win that game and we also have India, it’s a strong side but I am sure we can cause an upset.
“ We have been preparing well and we have played a lot of matches with franchise clubs.
“We have been playing together as a team for some time and we are confident,” said Bentley.
The batsman believes the junior team, which has been involved in other international competitions such as the Tri-Nations in South Africa against the hosts and Pakistan, is ripe for the grand stage.
“We have a lot of quality players in the team and we have been exposed to the highest cricket but all the players would be competing at our first World Cup,” said Bentley.
Mountaineers and top order batsman Kelvin Kusaza believes the team is in good shape and ready to shine.
“I feel great to play for Zimbabwe and with our form we should put up a challenge in Australia.
“It would be a 50-50 situation. It is very crucial that we win the first game and could push West Indies and take it from there.
“I did well in my first competitive tournament and I think I will carry on at the World Cup,” said Kusaza.
Cricketer Campbell Light is also relishing the chance of playing at the world showcase and believes a strong team spirit will carry them through.
“I am feeling great and we have a very big chance of getting to the finals.
“Our team spirit is much stronger than before and we have been playing together for some few years now.
“We played in January in Cape Town and learnt a lot of lessons from the tour and our team spirit has really improved.
“The preparations have been very good and the team worked hard and everyone is excited to play and do well in the World Cup,” said Light.
Zimbabwe Under-19 assistant coach, Walter Chawaguta, is also confident that the boys have the ability to take on big cricket nations at the tournament, which was won by this year’s hosts Australia.
“Our chances are very good and we believe in our ability. We have put a lot of work to make sure our guys are ready.
“We had a couple of friendly matches here and we even played Zimbabwe A select and we beat them convincingly.
“I strongly believe we can go out there and do well,” said Chawaguta.
The mentor believes playing Papa New Guinea in their opening encounter on August 11 will give them a physiological advantage before they entertain India on August 14 and complete their group stage match with a tie against West Indies.
“Papa New Guinea will be the weakest of the four teams but at a World Cup tournament teams put up a lot work and we can’t expect it to be easy.
“World Cups have pressure and we are not expecting an easy game though India pose a big threat and we will have the same approach for all our games and make sure we will play best cricket on the day.
“Confidence wise it helps to start with a weaker team and ease into the tournament and for me it’s a good thing to start with a relatively easier game.
“I was not around at the last edition but I believe one of the reasons the team struggled and did not do well at the World Cup is that we were not prepared enough and I strongly believe we will do well this time around,” said Chawaguta.