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26 January 201617:43

Bangladesh faces stern South Africa test

South Africa has a 100% win record in Under-19 World Cups against Bangladesh, who will hope to buck the trend

Bangladesh faces stern South Africa test - Cricket News
South Africa and Bangladesh have locked horns four times before in ICC Under-19 World Cups, and on each occasion South Africa has come out on top. Also, South Africa is the defending Under-19 champion, a crown it won in 2014 in the United Arab Emirates. So, when the sides do get into a scrum in the opening encounter of the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Chittagong, the three-time finalists can be expected to have a little more muscle.

The question, however, is if that thrust will be enough to get Bangladesh out of the way before it lins -up against Scotland and Namibia in Group A.

Lawrence Mahatlane, who took over the coaching duties of the Under-19 national team from Ray Jennings last year, was confident that he had the right squad to defend their title.

“It has been a very exciting process,” he had said in the lead up to the World Cup. “We have a lot of players that we have tried out and given a lot of international exposure to. I think the fact that majority of the team has been to Bangladesh already can only serve us in good stead. It's been tough at times, there are a few young men who will be very disappointed that they will not be going to the World Cup, but I believe that we have picked a really good side.”

If the warm-ups are anything to go by, Mahatlane is right. Riding on the back of Tony de Zorzi’s 91-ball 105, South Africa posted a 283-run win over Fiji in the first warm-up game and then went on to play a thriller against West Indies which ended in a tie.

While South Africa has rejigged the entire set-up in hope of seeing some new talent come through, Bangladesh has retained five players from the 2014 squad. Mehedi Hassan Miraz, the skipper, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Saeed Sarkar, Zakir Hasan and Joyraz Sheik will feature in their second World Cup, that could spell trouble for South Africa, who do not possess as much experience in their ranks.

Among the lot which has been retained, Mehedi has been spoken of highly and is expected to go on to flourish at the international level. Many expressed surprise when Liton Das and Mustafizur Rahman found their spot in the men’s side ahead of this 18-year-old off-spinning allrounder so one could expect good numbers from this youngster. Apart from Mehedi, the likes of Saif Hassan and Sanjit Saha have done well alongside Ariful Islam and Jaker Ali in recent series against India and Zimbabwe.

According to the event format, the top two sides from each of the four groups will progress to the Super League Stage and the bottom two will feature in the Plate Championship. With Scotland and Namibia the other sides in Group A, a victory for Bangladesh over South Africa will go a long way in helping the hosts top the group and avoid a potential quarterfinal clash against a power-packed India.

“South Africa is the defending champion but we have dominated them since their World Cup triumph,” said Mehedi. “If we play to our potential, then we know we can beat them. South Africa is first up and it is crucial that we make a positive start because then we will have a very good chance of topping the group as we are stronger than both Scotland and Namibia. If we win the group, the pressure will ease a lot.”

There is little known about the young South African outfit but one can rest assured that Bangladesh won’t have it easy.

Teams (from):
South Africa: Tony de Zorzi (capt), Ziyaad Abrahams, Dean Foxcroft, Dayyaan Galiem, Willie Ludick, Wandile Makwethu, Conner McKerr, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Wiaan Mulder, Luke Philander, Farhaan Sayanvala, Lutho Sipamla, Liam Smith, Kyle Verreynne, Sean Whitehead.

Bangladesh: Mehedi Hassan Miraz (capt), Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Joyraj Sheik, Pinak Ghosh, Saif Hassan, Zakir Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Shafiul Hayat, Saeed Sarkar, Mehedi Hasan Rana, Abdul Halim, Sanjit Saha, Saleh Ahmed Shawon, Ariful Islam, Jaker Ali.