New Zealand Cricket: NZU19 ready for World Cup semi-final

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The New Zealand Under 19s are on the cusp of their biggest day yet at the World Cup, ready to take on Bangladesh in the Waitangi Day evening Semi-Final (9PM Thursday NZ time, live on SKY Sport 2 from 8.45PM).

With defending world U19 champion India having now qualified for a third consecutive Under 19 World Cup Final — cantering to a brilliant 10-wicket win against Pakistan overnight in the first Semi-Final — it’s now down to the last three.

New Zealand Under 19 has already beaten Bangladesh once in South Africa with a four-wicket win in the official warm-up games, but that hardly means our high-flying emerging talents will be taking their opponent for granted come tomorrow night.

      NZ Under 19’s path to the World Cup Semi-Final

Bangladesh is a strong side and both teams have had a whole week to prepare for the showdown at JB Marks Oval, at Senwes Park.

Head coach Paul Wiseman reports from Potchefstroom on how the team’s been travelling ahead of New Zealand’s first Under 19 World Cup Semi-Final since Kane Williamson led the lads in 2008.

• • •

CONGRATULATIONS on making the Semi-Final in an exciting tournament, Wiz. With this long build-up to the next game, what’s the team been doing to stay busy?

PAUL WISEMAN: “Our key focus is to keep the skills up, but get the balance between skills and being fresh. So we also want to make sure the team enjoys the week, and has some fun along the way.”

What was the key going into the West Indies quarterfinal?

“We spoke about hanging on in the game with both bat and ball. The longer we stayed in it, the greater the chance of getting over the top of them.”

A World Cup record ninth-wicket stand was certainly testament to that. The boys have won a couple of real nailbiters to get here. As the coach, could you keep a calm front while watching those games going down the wire?

“Yeah I wasn’t too bad on the outside…. but when you’re so invested in the game, it’s hard not to be bubbling on the inside!”

Is it ultimately an advantage at this level having played the Bangladesh players before, both in the warm-up win and back in New Zealand when we hosted the bilateral series leading up to this World Cup?

“It definitely takes away the unknown which is fantastic. The boys know their boys very well, and are very aware of what they bring. We also know they are beatable, having had success on a couple of occasions, in particular that last meeting in warm up games here.”

Who are their key players in your estimation?

“Tanzid Hasan Tamim, their opening batsman, is coming off an 80 against South Africa.

“They have a good spinning allrounder in Shamim Hossain. Left-arm off-spinner Rakibul Hasan is one of the top 10 wicket-takers so far in the tournament, and Shoriful Islam, their left-arm bowler commands respect opening their attack.

How has South Africa been treating the team? 

“The boys have enjoyed the tour so far, we’ve managed to go on a Game drive and see a few malls. Other than that, the boys have entertained themselves with table tennis and games in the pool.”

And a lot of family and supporters over there, and all the messages from back home?

“The support from the boys’ families has been amazing! We still have about 10 parents here, and had them over for a braii last night with the players and support staff to show our appreciation to them.”

NZU19 leg-spinner Adithya Ashok | PHOTOSPORT

All the best for Thursday to all, and hopefully it’s one more win for New Zealand to set up a rematch with India! However no matter what the result, this has already been a very exciting tournament for the future of our game, don’t you think?

“Absolutely. Key to our Under 19 programme is player development. Of course we want to got as far as we can in the tournament, but also key is how we take each one of these players forward into our Domestic game, and beyond.

“We’ve managed to play all 15 of our squad in the warm-up games and pool games, so along with the off-field professionalism, we’ve managed to give them all quality playing experiences which will hold them in great stead moving forward.”



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