TOWNSVILLE, Australia (CMC):
Unbeaten West Indies Under-19s will chase a spot in the final four of the Youth World Cup when they clash with New Zealand in their quarter-final here tomorrow.
The Young Windies, who dominated Group C to top the standings and the Kiwis, who finished second in Group B, will face off at Endeavour Park No. 1 at 9.30 a.m. (6.30 p.m. today Jamaica time).
West Indies will enter the encounter on the backs of three convincing preliminary round victories after they beat India by four wickets, Papua New Guinea by nine wickets and Zimbabwe by six wickets.
The Windies also went unbeaten in the warm-up phase, edging hosts Australia by 13 runs before thrashing Namibia by 146 runs.
Never lost to New Zealand
West Indies have also never lost to New Zealand in their two previous Youth World Cup meetings but captain Kraigg Brathwaite said his side would be taking nothing for granted.
"We played against New Zealand in one of the warm-up games. They are a quality team. They have some good bowlers and their top-five is pretty stable," the 19-year-old Test opener said.
"I think the conditions are good with the sun being out. The pitch is doing a bit and may get a little slower as the tournament goes by. But I think whichever team plays better cricket on the day will win."
The Young Windies' new ball pair of fast bowlers Jerome Jones and Ronsford Beaton have been incisive, with medium pacer Kyle Mayers and leg-spinner Akeal Hosein providing fantastic support.
Their main batsmen, meanwhile, have all got good knocks, with Brathwaite, Sunil Ambris, Anthony Alleyne gathering half-centuries and Mayers and John Campbell also among the runs.
In contrast, New Zealand Under-19s have been hardly convincing. Though they beat Scotland by 39 runs in their opening game, they narrowly edged Afghanistan by eight runs before going down to Group B winners Pakistan by five wickets.
New Zealand captain Will Young said his side would be lifting their game for the Windies.
"We're working very hard at the moment and believe we can step up now that we are in the quarter-finals. The West Indies have been impressive but it is up to us to test them now," he said.
The winners will clinch a place in Thursday's second semi-final where they face the winners of Monday's other quarter-final between India and Pakistan.
In Sunday's two quarter-finals, England face South Africa while Australia play Bangladesh.
The winners face off in the first semi-final on Tuesday.