Trans-Tasman rivals braced for knockout game
Mitchell Marsh, the Australian Under-19 captain, is confident ahead of the quarter-final against New Zealand in Rangiora despite his team's dispiriting loss to South Africa by two wickets in the league stage. "It was a good game of cricket. We batted beautifully and set a good total, but had we been better in the field we could have probably won that game. We need to give a hundred percent in such pressure situations but we didn't do that," he said.
The defeat led to Australia slipping to second place in their group, drawing them against New Zealand, the table-toppers in Group C, for the knockout phase. Marsh said his team had the wherewithal to overcome the hosts. "We've had a good look at them but nothing too major there. We know they've got a couple of good bowlers and some good batsmen up the order. If we just focus on executing our skills, then hopefully we can get a few wins on the board and go through the finals."
Marsh singled out the team's batting as its main strength. "We've got a strong line-up. Hopefully the openers will get off to a good start and us folks in the middle order can bat through to the 50th over. With our bowling we have Josh Hazlewood and Alister McDermott at the front."
The venues at the competition have produced some sporting wickets with plenty on offer for seamers. The key, in the event of another bowler-friendly pitch, Marsh said, was to target the right areas. "Any seam bowler who bowls in the right areas can take wickets," he said. "The team that bowls consistently in the right areas might be the one that wins."
New Zealand have won all their three games so far, and their batsman Harry Boam, who top scored with 85 in his team's seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka, said he wasn't too worried about taking on a high-profile outfit such as Australia. "We're looking forward to it. Obviously Australia is quite a big-name team but we're not really too worried about that," he said. "I think we're all pretty focused on what we need to do."
Boam's 85 against Sri Lanka was as an opener, but he said he was open to batting anywhere. "It kind of depends on the match situation but so far that's what I've done," he said. "It has worked well for us but come Sunday it could be a completely different role. It has been nice to get a couple of good innings under my belt early on and help us secure a couple of games. It has been really good.
"It's nice to know that we've made the quarters and we've got to the real business end of it. But it's still three games away before we can even think about lifting the World Cup. We've just got to take it one game at a time at the moment and not get too excited about what might happen."
Home advantage, Boam added, had certainly played a part in their success in the competition. "It's nice being around familiar surroundings for a lot of us. We've had really good support for the three games we've had so far, which has really helped. And just knowing the conditions, being a little bit colder has probably favoured us over the sub-continental teams and we know the pitch conditions and are used to those."