Head coach Graeme West says West Indies are primed and ready for their crucial quarter-final against New Zealand tomorrow, as they chase a spot in the final four of the ICC Under-19 World Cup.
The young Caribbean side played unbeaten throughout the preliminary round and will start as favourites against a Kiwi outfit which scraped into the second round after winning just one match in Group A.
West said his side had been training well and not only were they fully fit but were also motivated for the critical assignment.
“All 15 [players] are fit and ready to go … all is good. We [have] trained hard and everybody has come through very well,” West said, adding that he had no concerns at all heading into the contest at Willowmoore Park.
“Everything that we’ve done, I feel the players are very much focussed on the game. The big occasion seems to bring out the best in them and I’m very confident we’re going to see the same [against New Zealand].”
Installed in a virtual ‘group of death’ alongside pre-tournament favourites Australia and England, West Indies defied the odds to top Group B.
They stunned the Aussies by three wickets in their opener before following up with an equally emphatic 71-run victory over old foes England.
They showcased their superiority in their final game against minnows Nigeria, crushing the African side by 246 runs.
“We were delighted to have come through the group and in first place,” West explained.
“The preparation for those two games [against Australia and England] goes back quite a long time now. We had the Tri-Series in December … everything was geared towards the two games in all departments – batting, bowling, fielding.
“It’s been a real team effort but the nature of this tournament is what you do in the last three games and not in the first three games.”
He added: “Both [those] games were team efforts. We’d done well with the ball going back to the Tri-Series. Both [Matthew] Forde and [Jayden] Seales took wickets in Antigua quite consistently so we felt that we had good options with Nyeem Young and Joshua James to back them up, and [with] our spinners we thought that was a solid, strong unit and so it proved in both games.
“Once we got through the top order, we were able to put a lot of pressure on both Australia and England’s middle order and we went through them really quickly.
“The batting department is something we’ve really worked hard at and again, against England, it was particularly pleasing to put such a good score on the board (267 for seven).”
All-rounder Young has led the Windies batting with two half-centuries while Kevlon Anderson averages 64 courtesy of his unbeaten 86 against England.
And Young, who became the first Windies player to hit a half-century and take five wickets in an Under-19 World Cup with his feat against England, has been instrumental with the ball with six scalps while speedster Seales has led the attack with eight wickets.
Despite the Windies impressive form, West said they would not be taking New Zealand for granted.
“They’ve really shown some ability especially with the bat. They scored about one hundred off the first 10 overs against India which is very impressive,” West noted.
“They’re certainly an attacking squad. They’re very mobile, quick in the field, very, very brave and they will certainly look to play quite a few unorthodox shots. They are very good at creating scoring opportunities.
“But we’re very confident that if we get our game together that we’ll come through this stage of the tournament.”
SQUADS: WEST INDIES – Kimani Melius (captain), Kevlon Anderson, Daniel Beckford, Matthew Forde, Joshua James, Mbeki Joseph, Leonardo Julien, Avinash Mahabirsingh,
Kirk McKenzie, Antonio Morris,
Ashmead Nedd, Matthew Patrick, Jayden Seales, Ramon Simmonds, Nyeem Young.
NEW ZEALAND – Jesse Tashkoff (captain), Adithya Ashok, Kristian Clarke, Hayden Dickson, Joey Field, David Hancock, Simon Keene, Fergus Lellman, Nick Lidstone, Rhys Mariu, Will O’Rourke, Ben Pomare, Quinn Sunde, Beckham Wheeler-Greenall, Oli White. (CMC)