THE Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket side has lined-up a number of warm-up matches with the country’s top teams to fine-tune their preparations for the guadrangular series set for Visakhapatnam, India later this month.
Report by Munyaradzi Madzokere
Last week, the Walter Chawaguta-coached side travelled to Bulawayo to play two matches against Matabeleland Tuskers, before engaging Midwest Rhinos for two more games, impressively winning all the encounters.
A further six matches have been organised where the junior national team is set to play the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy on September 9 and 10, Mashonaland Eagles on 12 and 16, and Takashinga on 14 and 17, before leaving for India on September 19.
Coach Chawaguta spoke to Standardsport about the team’s preparations for the quadrangular series.
“Our first four warm-up matches against Tuskers and Midwest Rhinos were impressive but I am not sure if we were challenged enough in those games so we have sought to play Mash Eagles who will field a number of national team players as well as the Academy and Takashinga so as to raise the standard of competition to a higher level,” he said.
Zimbabwe will face cricket giants South Africa, Australia and hosts India in the cricket fiesta slated for September 23 to October 6. Chawaguta also lamented the element of weather conditions in the sub-continent.
“We are very much aware of the conditions in the sub-continent, so we have practised a lot in playing spin, drills like sweeping and double stepping. We have also been working on our spinners paying particular attention to the pace and length to bowl.
“It is also a big challenge bowling pace in the sub-continent because you do not get help from the pitch. The pitches are very flat and so we have worked on our pace bowlers as well but my area of concern is the fielding. We need a good fielding side and we are working on it,” added Chawaguta.
Chawaguta reckons his side has a good chance of beating South Africa and Australia but expects a tough challenge from the hosts. “Traditionally, we have produced good quality spinners and I’m sure South Africa and Australia will struggle against us. I’m confident we will do well but it will be tough against India.
“At under-19 level there is a very slight gap, if at all, in terms of skill, the difference is in confidence and intelligence in executing in match situations and we are doing a lot to ensure our players are confident in their abilities,” he said.
With one eye on the Under-19 World Cup pencilled for February 2014 in United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe will be banking on the experience of captain and top order batsman Malcom Lake, all rounders Luke Jongwe, Ryan Burl, and Kieren Geyle as well as fast bowler Cuthbert Musoko, who all took part at the last World Cup.