SA U19s want to level up against New Zealand

Wandile Makwetu during an SA U19s team training session with Thando Ntini.

Wandile Makwetu during an SA U19s team training session with Thando Ntini.

The Coca-Cola South Africa under-19s are set for their second clash against New Zealand in the fifth and sixth place Plate Championship semi-final of the 2018 ICC U19 World Cup in Christchurch tomorrow. The young Proteas hope to do better than the last time the sides met in the group stage of the competition where they suffered a 71-run loss to the hosts in Tauranga just one week ago.

Team vice-captain, Wandile Makwetu says they are determined to overcome their disappointment in their own performances which led to their being knocked out in the quarter-final against Pakistan and will play their best brand of cricket and end the tournament on a positive note to restore pride to the badge.

“We were disappointed that we lost to New Zealand the first time, so there’s that pride that we’re playing for to get one over them this time,” he commented after the team’s practice this afternoon. “We may be out of the tournament, but we want to finish on a high here and put in two strong performances. There’s enough there for the boys to play for and we’re just excited to get back out there again and put on a good performance.”

The wicketkeeper-batsman does not believe that the home side have a psychological advantage on his team as they have just come off their own fresh, confidence bashing, 202-run quarter-final defeat to Afghanistan which knocked them out of the running for the tournament yesterday.

“Both teams are coming off pretty disappointing quarter-final losses and theirs is a bit more recent and they’ve had a shorter turnaround time than we have,” Makwetu continued. “I can’t speak for them, but I know that we are in a better space now than we were after the Pakistan game. We had to fight a few demons off after that game but I think the boys are ready to go out there and put on a performance that the South African public and the 25 people here in our (touring) group can be proud of.”

South Africa were let down by a sub-par batting performance in their knock-out match, paired with too many extras bowled; 19 to be exact, 18 of which were wides. Makwetu said that both were areas of concern that he hopes the team have come to grips with, as a vast improvement in them will be the difference between winning and losing tomorrow.

“I think the batting group hasn’t clicked as much as we would have liked to so far,” he went on. “There’s some top order runs that the guys will go out there and try score tomorrow. On the bowling side, we just want to cut down on those extras and just be really clinical. If we get an opportunity to put the New Zealanders to bed, we’ll try and take that as quickly as possible.

“I think the boys have shown a lot of good fight in difficult times on this tour, but I’d like to see them get out there and really execute their skills properly and not get backed into a corner. As much as we enjoy that fighting spirit, we want to go out there and dominate the game. We want to get on top of New Zealand and really put them away when we get the opportunity.”

The match will be broadcast live on SuperSport 2 from 23:15 (SAST) tonight (Friday, 26 January), with regular updates available on Cricket South Africa’s Facebook (www.facebook.com/cricketsouthafrica ) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/officialcsa ) platforms.