A rising star at the crease, Jonathan Bird believes the South Africa U19s have begun to click with the bat ahead of their ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Super League quarter-final against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom on Thursday.
The imposing figure of the left-handed batsman from Cape Town entered the tournament with a reputation at U19 level and is beginning to display his talents.
Bird and the Junior Proteas have recovered from a disappointing start to the tournament against Afghanistan and were impressive in the subsequent group-stage matches against Canada and the United Arab Emirates to finish second in Group D.
The 18-year-old believes the upturn in form, particularly with the bat, has given the side impetus going into the next game.
‘We’ve had an up-and-down tournament,’ he said. ‘Won two, lost one, but go into the quarter-final very confident.
‘We’ve put 300 on the board in our last two games, so we are looking to play on a flat wicket again and put 300 on the board once more.’
The Western Province youngster has managed only a single half-century in the tournament so far, but has played a crucial role in laying platforms that have propelled South Africa to totals of 349-8 and 299-8, respectively.
Bird contributed an exciting 54 off 49 balls (7 fours, 2 sixes) against Canada followed by a solid 43 runs in a 63-run partnership with vice-captain Khanya Cotani versus the UAE.
Those steady foundations helped the likes of captain Bryce Parsons, Luke Beaufort and Tyrese Karelse score runs during the middle periods.
‘I think I’m getting better in each game; I’m timing the ball a bit better,’ Bird commented.
‘In the opening game, I got a good nut. It came through the gate and bowled me. In the Canada game, I found my timing, got a fifty and against the UAE, unfortunately I got out in the 40s, but I am feeling good, feeling confident.
‘During the tournament, we were struggling a bit with our middle order, but they have come right now and have been batting extremely well, getting a 150-run partnership in the UAE game.
‘They are working the ball around well, batting over five an over. I know they are going to continue that form into the Bangladesh game.’
SA U19 will face off against Bangladesh at the JB Marks Oval for a place in the semi-finals.
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