South Africa’s U19s begin the defence of their World title against a host nation who they have beaten only three times in their last 14 encounters.
The U19 World Cup kicks off on Wednesday with hosts Bangladesh taking on South Africa in Chittagong in the sold-out Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
These two teams know each other extremely well, having played two seven-match series against each other home and away over the last nine months.
Bangladesh won both series convincingly. They clinched the first one, at home, 6-1 in April 2015 and then came to South Africa where they won the series 5-2. Lawrence Mahatlane’s team will have to be at their very best and play some outstanding cricket if they want to beat Bangladesh in their own backyard.
‘The players are in a comfort zone in terms of where they are,’ Mahatlane said. ‘They’ve been here before, they’ve played cricket here before, they’ve lived in this country before and they’ve played the opposition before so it’s about the team who gets their game plan right.
‘I am very happy with the preparation. We have given ourselves a lot of options in terms of the batting and the bowling. I think our fielding will also be key in this particular game. The players understand their roles and it’s about executing that. We are prepared for their spinners. They have quality spinners. Our players have worked very hard, but you still have to go out and do it out there in the middle
‘The older players are hurt from what happened before [against Bangladesh], but the newer players have generally brought new energy into the side and has re-energised the team.’
Captain Tony de Zorzi echoed his coaches sentiments and was also very pleased with the training going into this important game.
‘They’ll know us very well and we’ll know them just as well. Whoever wants it more will be victorious. The pressure is very equal. We have an opportunity to make history at this tournament.’
South Africa are in Pool A with Bangladesh, Namibia and Scotland. The first round of the tournament is the stage, where each team in a group will play the other teams in its group once. Every group consists of fours teams each. Each victory gains the winning team two points, and after four matches, the top two sides from each group will qualify for the Super League quarterfinals, while the teams finishing third and fourth will play in a Plate Championship quarterfinals.
The winners of the Super League quarterfinals will qualify for the Super League semifinals, while the losers will contest in the Super League play-off semifinals.
The winners of the Super League semifinals will play the final of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2016, while the losing sides will clash in the final for the third place.
The winners of the Super League play-off semifinals will progress to the play-off final to decide the fifth and sixth placed finishers, while the losers will contest for the seven and eight places against those playing off in the Super League playoff semis loser’s final.
The winners of the Plate Championship quarterfinals will progress to the Plate Championship semifinals, while the losing sides will clash in the Plate Championship play-off semifinals.
The winners of the Plate Championship semifinals will contest in the Plate Championship Final 2014, which will decide the ninth and tenth place finishers, while the defeated sides will play off in the Plate Semis Losers final for the 11th and 12th place.
The winners of the Plate Championship play-off semifinals will progress to the Plate play-off semis winners Final, for the 13th and 14th places, while the losers playing off in the Plate play-off Semis Losers final will contest for the 15th spot.