Australia will play South Africa in the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 semi-final. Photo Courtesy: ICC Cricket.com
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dubai: Feb 25, 2014
With the senior sides battling it out in a high-octane Test series, the Under-19s clash in a more quiet setting in Dubai. Australia and South Africa will clash in the second semi-final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Alex Gregory, the Australian captain told the press after their quarter-final victory, “We will focus on our game and let the old boys focus on theirs.” Nevertheless, one would expect the rivalry to spill onto this field as well.
Bring a 12 PM start, one wonders what the captains would chose to do. There was no sign of dew in the evening during the semi-final between England and Pakistan. Thus, bowlers shouldn’t find it tough to grip in the evening. Moreover, the teams winning the toss and batting first have lost the last three games at Dubai. Runs have been hard to come by after taking it first up and although teams would want to put them on the board in the knockouts, this is a tough one at Dubai.
Australia have a strong side with Gregory leading them. Matthew Short and Jaron Morgan formed a good opening stand in the quarter-final and would most probably be persisted with. Jake Doran is a man in good form in the middle and is a mainstay of this line-up. In the previous game, they made a few changes to their line-up as Ben McDermott dropped down to No 3. He did get a decent score and that should help his confidence in the lead-up to this game. Damien Mortimer had been handed the No 3 spot, but didn’t make much of an impact.
Nevertheless, this batting looks very strong. They also have James Bazley at No 7, a hitter who can be quite lethal with the long handle. Billy Stanlake and Guy Walker are a good opening bowling combination. In the last game, they troubled the West Indies with some regular strikes and would look to do the same in the quarter-final. Bazley and Ben Ashkenazi can also back them up with their medium-pacers. Thomas Andrews is the main spinner with his leg-break. Stanlake may not be able to bowl his quota as he has stress fractures in his leg.
Aiden Makram leads the South Africans full of confidence. He has been a prime batsman for them in this tournament and was a star of the quarter-final against Afghanistan. Yaseen Valli is their other main batsman for the tournament. Kirwin Christoffels has also been amongst the runs. Thus, three off their top four batsmen are in form and those are good signs for them leading up to this big game.
In the bowling, Justin Dill and Valli have formed a good combination in the middle. Kagiso Rabada, Ngazibini Sigwili and Corbin Bosch form a good pace battery and they would be the ones to take the charge upfront.
This South African unit has been unbeaten so far, and would want to extend that against the much tougher opponents. Australia have gelled well after their defeat to Afghanistan and this would be a huge test for them as well.
Morgan, the Australian opening batsman told Gaurav Joshi, “We have seen them (South Africa) couple of times and we have been on a few tours think we go into the match with more confidence than if we were playing Pakistan or something. Especially on a wicket like this one what we had today (quarter-final against West Indies) it bit closer to an Australian wicket so that will be pretty good.”
Australia: Alex Gregory (c), Jaron Morgan, Matthew Short, Damien Mortimer, Jake Doran, Ben McDermott (wk), James Bazley, Thomas Andrews, Guy Walker, Ben Ashkenazi, Billy Stanlake, Kelvin Smith, Matthew Fotia, Sean Willis, Cameron Valente.
South Africa: Adrian Markram (c), Clyde Fortuin (wk), Kirwin Christoffels, Yaseen Valli, Jason Smith, Corbin Bosh, Bradley Dial, Justin Dill, Kagiso Rabada, Ngazibini Sigwili, Andile Phelhukwayo, Dirk Bruwer, Greg Oldfield, Bradley Bopp, Sibonele Makhayanya.
Time: 13:30 IST | 08:00 GMT
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)