Group A: New Zealand v Windies
Date: January 13, 2018
Venue: Bay Oval, Tauranga
Not too long ago, the Windies senior team toured New Zealand and returned empty-handed after being thrashed by the hosts across formats. The tour was so bad that they couldn’t even win a tour game, and lost every match bar one Twenty20 International that was ruined by rain.
Barely days after the tour, the Windies junior side will kick-start their Under-19 World Cup title defence against New Zealand. Interestingly, unlike their senior counterparts, Windies are perhaps the more fancied side for the game. Not without reason are they defending champions after all, having won the title with a stellar run in Bangladesh two years back.
The current team is almost entirely different – only Emmanuel Stewart, the captain, and Kirstan Kallicharan remain from the 2016 batch – but the Windies boys have shown they too can be world beaters. In the lead up to the tournament, Windies defeated South Africa and Zimbabwe in series away from home, and also warmed up with a victory in the practice game against Papua New Guinea.
But New Zealand will bank on experience, with as many as four players in the current squad – Finn Allen, Dale Phillips, Rachin Ravindra and Felix Murray – featuring in the Bangladesh tournament. And of course, they will have the best knowledge of local conditions among all teams playing in the tournament.
PLAYER TO LOOK OUT FOR
Kaylum Boshier: The New Zealand captain is not just an allrounder on the cricket field, but has also signed to the Taranaki rugby academy. By his own admission, Boshier will have to decide between the two sports at some point in the future. For now, he has warmed up for the World Cup with a half-century and three wickets in the practice game against Zimbabwe. More of the same, and Boshier’s career decision will perhaps become easier.
Kirstan Kallicharan: Kallicharan shot to fame in 2014 when he smashed an unbeaten 404 in a 35-over school contest in Port-of-Spain. Now 18, he is one of the two Windies players to have the experience of playing an Under-19 World Cup. With that comes responsibility, and how he handles that could play a key role in Windies’ campaign.
New Zealand: Kaylum Boshier (capt), Finn Allen (wk), Jakob Bhula, Max Chu, Katene Clarke, Matthew Fisher, Luke Georgeson, Ben Lockrose, Callum McLachlan, Felix Murray, Sandeep Patel, Dale Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Connor Sullivan, Todd Watson.
Windies: Emmanuel Stewart(capt, wk), 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.
This is the first game of Group A, which also features South Africa and Kenya. The top two teams from each group will progress to the Super League while the remaining eight teams will figure in the Plate Championship.
Windies and New Zealand played two T20Is at the venue recently, and both saw plenty of runs being scored. Tauranga has seen plenty of sunshine over the last few days, and if that continues, the batsmen should enjoy themselves yet again.
“It’s a very good feeling being defending champions. We as West Indies were very proud to win all three cups last time. Repeating that will be very good for the people of the Caribbean, so we just want to do it for them. But we just want to take it one step at a time, one game at a time and let the rest take care of itself” – Emmanuel Stewart, Windies captain.
“We are going out to win every game, there’s no two ways about that. It’s just how our guys and the opposition turn up, who wins those big moments. We are strong across the board. I don’t think we’ve got any weak points” – Paul Wiseman, New Zealand coach.
Pakistan v Afghanistan at Cobham Oval, Whangarei.
Zimbabwe v Papua New Guinea at Lincoln Green, Christchurch.
Bangladesh v Namibia at Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Christchurch.