• South Africa U19 gear up for Zim clash

    Head coach Lawrence Mahatlane believes his team will be up for a contest when South Africa U19 take on the Zimbabwe U19s in their third match of the Youth One-Day (ODI) Quadrangular series in Durban on Tuesday.

    After going down by 66 runs to India in the first game, to be followed by an impressive five-wicket win over New Zealand, the junior Proteas will be looking to make it back-to-back victories against Zimbabwe and earn a place in the series final taking place on Thursday.

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    Mahatlane highlighted the performances of Zimbabwe in the four-team series so far, in their defeats by New Zealand and India, saying his charges will have to be on their game against a side featuring players attending school in South Africa.

    ‘A lot of the Zim players play in South Africa in schoolboys cricket,’ the coach said. ‘One of their best players, Wesley [Madhevere], is at St Charles College and we’ve seen him dominate in Schools T20 Cricket.

    ‘It’s a good side at age-group level and it will be a good challenge. They were unlucky to lose to New Zealand and managed to score 200 against an Indian bowling attack. We know how good they can be and it is important that we stick to our processes and if we get them right, we should be OK.

    ‘Hopefully we can keep building on what we’ve done so far.’

    The matches are being used as key preparation for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup to be hosted in South Africa from 17 January to 9 February.

    Mahatlane analysed the positives from the team’s recent matches and the aspects that still require some work with bat and ball ahead of the first match of the global showpiece against Afghanistan at the Diamond Oval.

    ‘If you look at the India game, we had opportunities,’ he said. ‘We had them two down quite quickly and, unfortunately, we couldn’t break the partnership after that. In the games where we’ve been successful, we managed to strike straight after powerplay one and in the games we haven’t been successful, we allowed them to drag out the first powerplay and build a partnership.

    ‘That has been our challenge; we understand that and we’ve come up with a couple of solutions for it.

    ‘From a batting point of view, we’ve had good starts by dragging those partnerships at the top, which has allowed us to go through comfortably. When we haven’t done well, is when we lost wickets in clusters and that is something that we’re looking to work on, getting your mate in and making sure that you get him to at least ten runs and build new partnerships.

    ‘We still have four games before the before the opening game of the World Cup and hopefully something will work out.’

    Although there have been notable performances from Andrew Louw, who recorded his second Youth ODI half-century against New Zealand along with bowlers, Mondli Khumalo and Odirile Modimokoane, who have both claimed four-wicket hauls in the opening two games, nobody can argue with the impact from SA U19 captain Bryce Parsons.

    The all-rounder has scored consecutive fifties against his Indian and New Zealand counterparts and delivered a sublime performance with the ball against the latter, bowling five maidens in his eight overs, going for six runs and taking one wicket. This is after recovering from an impingement injury in his back, which kept him out of action for six weeks.

    ‘He has worked very hard to get himself fit again and ready to play, and he has been outstanding,’ Mahatlane beamed about his skipper. ‘I thought he’s bowled superbly, and that confidence has flowed to his batting and his leadership.

    ‘He’s always been a natural reader of the game and has very good instincts in terms of how the game works.

    ‘I have been very proud of his performance and I know the boys have also been looking forward to playing alongside him.’

    Photo: Gallo Images

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