Undaunted Young WI seek final spot
DHAKA, Bangladesh (CMC):
West Indies Under-19s will bid for a place in the final of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup today, but will face perhaps their sternest test of the competition.
The Caribbean side takes on an accomplished Bangladesh Under-19s who whitewashed them in a three-match warm-up series before the tournament and have played unbeaten since.
After making a slow start to the tour, West Indies have consistently improved, and manager Dwain Gill is hoping this progress can be reflected against the Bangladeshis.
"We lost the three-game series, but we came into that series without playing any youth ODIs over the last year and they are a very well prepared team," Gill told CMC Sports ahead of the semi-final, which bowled off at 9 a.m. here (12 a.m. today, Jamaica time).
"We saw against Bangladesh ... we were getting better and better all the time. It is going to be difficult because Bangladesh are always going to be difficult to beat at home, especially at Mirpur."
Following the whitewash, West Indies lost their opening game of the tournament to England by 61 runs, but then routed Fiji by 262 runs, before edging Zimbabwe by two runs, to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Bangladesh had no such hiccups, trouncing South Africa by 43 runs, hammering Scotland by 114 runs and easily getting past Namibia by eight wickets.
West Indies head coach, Graeme West, said: "Their top six are all well-organised batters and their spin attack is very broad, but very skilful in the conditions here in Bangladesh," West pointed out.
"They also have two good seam bowlers ... but they (team) are not an unknown quantity to us. We're very familiar with them, we know what to look out for and hopefully ... we can establish a method not just to be competitive but ultimately to be successful."
Captain Shimron Hetmyer, a first-class player, suffered a poor run of form during the tournament, but found his touch in the quarter-final win over Pakistan on Monday with an aggressive half-century.
Openers Gidron Pope and Tevin Imlach, all-rounders Shamar Springer and Keemo Paul, along with Jyd Goolie, have all had important knocks, while pacer Alzarri Joseph has been outstanding with the new ball.
"The semi-final knockout stage is a pressure situation. We have seen that the team that handles the pressure better will win on the day," Gill stressed.
"Nothing counts now - nothing about preparation and how much matches you've had. We are aware they will have the home advantage, but we are not daunted, we believe the boys have what it takes to really come to the party and beat Bangladesh in the semi-finals."
The winner will progress to Sunday's final to face India who defeated Sri Lanka by 97 runs in Tuesday's first semi-final.