New Zealand haven't made the title round of an Under-19 World Cup since 1998, and Bangladesh have never made it that far. So the second semi-final of the 2020 edition holds great significance for both the teams, and New Zealand will back themselves just a bit more than their opponents, having won the warm-up against them by four wickets after bowling Bangladesh out for 112. But if weather intervenes and the game is washed out, Bangladesh will go through on account of more group stage wins.
Both teams have shown weaknesses, but one of them has displayed great character through the tournament: New Zealand were on the brink of elimination twice - against Sri Lanka in the group stage and against the then-unbeaten West Indies in the quarter-final - but on both occasions, their lower order rescued them in final-over finishes. They will believe that whatever situation they are up against, they have the ability to pull through.
What goes Bangladesh's way slightly is that only one of their games has been televised, so New Zealand have seen little of them after that warm-up fixture apart from the quarter-final against South Africa. But New Zealand know that Bangladesh had been reduced to 106 for 9 against Pakistan's express pace during a rain-hit group-stage game, just like in that pre-tournament match.
In isolation, Bangladesh might have begun as favourites because of how varied and in-form their bowling attack is. Rakibul Islam's five-wicket haul against South Africa in the quarter-final showed that if left-arm seamer Shoriful Islam doesn't strike, the left-arm spinner will. And they are on a run of five wins. But the result in that warm-up game might yet plant a seed of doubt in their minds.
Bangladesh WWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand WLWLL
In the spotlight
Ian Bishop has picked Tanzid Hasan, the left-arm opener who is incidentally nicknamed Tamim, among his stars for the future. Traditionally, Bangladesh have not been great in high-pressure games, but Tanzid's 84-ball 80 in the quarter-final was a solid effort, and gave a glimpse of a different side to the team's batting. If he sets the base well with a quick-paced innings, the others can bat around him.
Kristian Clarke is the iceman any team would love to have. Six wickets in his last two games makes him a potent right-arm quick, but what's even more impressive is his contribution with the bat. In his last two innings, both in must-win games, he has been a big reason behind New Zealand's success, ending unbeaten while playing match-winning cameos. As long as he is involved, you cannot count New Zealand out.
After a thumping victory over South Africa, it's unlikely Bangladesh will tweak their XI. It's likely to be the same for New Zealand too.
Bangladesh (possible): 1 Parvez Hossain Emon, 2 Tanzid Hasan, 3 Mahmudul Hasan Joy, 4 Towhid Hridoy, 5 Shahadat Hossain, 6 Shamim Hossain, 7 Akbar Ali (capt, wk), 8 Rakibul Hasan, 9 Shoriful Islam, 10 Tanzim Hasan Sakib, 11 Hasan Murad
New Zealand (possible): 1 Rhys Mariu, 2 Ollie White, 3 Fergus Lellman, 4 Jesse Tashkoff (capt), 5 Quinn Sunde (wk), 6 Simon Keene, 7 Beckham Wheeler-Greenall, 8 Adithya Ashok, 9 Joey Field, 10 Kristian Clarke, 11 David Hancock
Pitch and conditions
Potchefstroom has seen rain on the eve of the game, so the outfield might be sluggish. The pitch has produced lower and lower first-innings totals as the tournament has progressed, with scores below 200 becoming common. The only team, however, to counter that last week was Bangladesh, who made 261 for 5 in the quarter-final.
Stats and trivia
- Towhid Hridoy is the most prolific century-maker for Bangladesh in Youth ODIs. He's got five, two more than the next in line, which includes his team-mate Mahmudul Hasan Joy.
- The average first-innings total in games played at Senwes Park at the tournament has been 200.
"If there's any team that's a gentleman, it's New Zealand. They have taught the world that end of the game, learn to be friends. Rivalries are well and good but within a limit."
Akbar Ali, Bangladesh Under-19 captain
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo