KIMBERLEY, South Africa,– Boosted by victories in their two warm-up matches during the week, 2016 champions West Indies will look to make a winning start to their ICC Under-19 World Cup campaign when they take on 2018 runners-up Australia in their opening match tomorrow.
The Caribbean side beat Canada by three wickets in Soweto on Monday before returning to crush Scotland by 126 runs in Pretoria on Wednesday, results that not only allowed them to acclimatise to conditions but also bolstered their confidence.
Head coach Graeme West said the two matches were the ideal preparation for the Windies following on from the one-week camp they underwent last week.
“The two warm-up games were certainly competitive and provided all squad members with opportunities to demonstrate their skills and show that they had made the necessary adjustments to the conditions and wickets to be effective,” West said.
“The Scotland performance was an improvement on the Canada game when Nyeem Young and Antonio Morris batted superbly to turn the game around.
“The bowling unit was slightly below par against Canada given how well they have performed since the Tri Series in December, but on Wednesday against Scotland we were far more controlled and disciplined.”
He added: “The most pleasing aspect of the Scotland game was the contribution from the top four batters who needed some time out in the middle. Kevlon Anderson’s hundred was well paced as he mixed good strike rotation with some power hitting.
“Captain Kimani Melius and Leonardo Julien had set the tempo for the innings with run-a-ball half-centuries on a wicket that was well suited to their stroke play and positive intent.”
West Indies’ triumph four years ago seems a distant memory now, when Shimron Hetmyer – who has since gone on to star for the senior West Indies – lifted the trophy in Bangladesh with a side boasting the likes of fast bowler Alzarri Joseph who is also now a Test player.
Two years later, the Windies failed to make the second round of the tournament, finishing third in their group after losing twice.
West Indies will need a sterling effort to progress to the quarter-finals this time around. Installed in Group B, they also take on powerful England and minnows Nigeria, and know they will have to upset one of the highly favoured sides in order to advance.
In a candid assessment, West said his side would need to put in “a perfect performance” in order to beat either Australia or England.
“We are well aware of the quality Australia and England possess and both games will provide great opportunities for our players to demonstrate the learning that has taken place over the last year,” the Englishman said.
“We know we will have to produce a perfect performance to beat both sides.”
SQUAD – Kimani Melius (captain), Nyeem Young, Ashmead Nedd, Leonardo Julien, Kevlon Anderson, Daniel Beckford, Matthew Forde, Joshua James, Antonio Morris, Mbeki Joseph, Avinash Mahabirsingh, Kirk McKenzie, Ramon Simmonds, Matthew Patrick, Jayden Seales. (CMC)