With the other two teams in the group being the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup’s hosts and holders, both South Africa and Kenya will view this clash as a must-win; beating each of the other two teams might prove a step too far.
South Africa come into this clash on the back of a patchy 2017. They lost close series against England and West Indies by margins of 2-1 and 3-2 respectively, and triumphed in a close series against Sri Lanka, again by a margin of 3-2. Various winning margins in those games of three wickets, two wickets, and two runs indicate that perhaps all we should expect is some exciting cricket.
Kenya have little form to speak of, having been thumped in five games in Zimbabwe and in their sole warm-up game against Canada. But they are no strangers to ripping up the form book – having needed a huge net run rate swing to qualify for this tournament in the first place, they skittled Uganda U19s for 60, chasing it down in 8.3 overs with three balls to spare.
Players to watch
Gerald Muthui (Ken)
Setting Uganda’s spectacular collapse in progress was off-break bowler Gerald Muthui, who pinned opener Ronald Opio LBW with his very first ball on his way to figures of 3/24. He has struggled since, regularly going at more than a run a ball during Kenya’s series against Zimbabwe, but if he can rediscover his best form he could have an impact.
Matthew Breetzke (SA)
An opener who compares his approach to batting to Kevin Pietersen’s and already has runs against international opposition. If he goes off with a bang, the game could quickly speed away from Kenya.
Head to head
South Africa and Kenya have faced off just once, in the 1998 U19 CWC. South Africa emerged triumphant, but Kenya performed creditably, passing 200 and losing by just 80 runs.
World Cup history
This is Kenya’s fourth appearance at the tournament overall, and their first since 2002.
This is South Africa’s 11th World Cup appearance; the 1988 tournament came during their period of isolation from international cricket. After four near misses – they came third at the 1998 and 2012 events, and were runners up in 2002 and 2008 – they finally registered their maiden triumph in 2014, with a team featuring current Test players Aiden Markram and Andile Phehlukwayo, and MRF Tyres No. 1 ranked bowler Kagiso Rabada. But that was followed by their joint-worst performance, as they failed to make the quarter-finals in 2016, finishing 11th in the final analysis.
Glorious sunshine is predicted all day tomorrow; there will barely be a cloud in the sky, and highs of 27 degrees are on the cards.