Australia might have suffered a heavy defeat to India in their sole 2022 ICC U-19 World Cup warm-up match but skipper Cooper Connolly believes the side are in good shape ahead of the tournament. The tournament is being held in the West Indies from January 14 to February 5.
Despite the captain making 117 in the clash in Guyana, the Aussies were beaten by nine wickets by the four-time champions. Connolly, who was part of the Australia team that went out in the quarter-finals two years hosts, is confident that the team will be ready for their opening game against the hosts, the West Indies, in Providence on Friday.
“I think as a team we are shaping up quite well. (The India defeat) was a reality check for us against one of the strongest sides, maybe the favourite. But our team is checking out really well and I feel like we’re in good shape for the first game,” he told the ICC.
“We can’t start off really easy, we’ve got to beat the West Indies and come out with a strong mindset. Hopefully we can knock them over. From the last World Cup, the aim was to make this. I looked forward to the opportunity that I might play in two, and then another thing was to get the captaincy. That’s unbelievable…”
– Ahmer Najeeb Raja (@ahmersatti90) January 11, 2022
Defending champions Bangladesh were comfortable winners in their most recent warm-up game against Zimbabwe, with their opening Group A game coming against England in St Kitts and Nevis on Sunday. Skipper Rakibul Hasan, who was part of the victorious 2020 squad, revealed that the squad is starting to adjust to the conditions in the Caribbean.
“The conditions in St Kitts are not that tough, we have been here for two weeks now, so we have adjusted to the conditions and also playing two practice games is good preparation for us, so we are looking forward to playing England and hopefully we can get off to a good start. Our senior team has done well in New Zealand which is inspiration for us, so hopefully we will do well in the tournament.” said Hasan.
Bangladesh are not the only team looking to their senior men’s side for inspiration, with Pakistan having captured the imagination on the way to the semi-finals of the 2021 Men’s T20 World Cup. And those displays have clearly rubbed off on the younger generation, with captain Qasim Akram saying: “The fighting quality the senior team showed at the T20 World Cup in the UAE was an effort that inspired the entire nation including our players.”
Qasim is appearing in his second ICC U19 Men’s CWC, and like Rakibul, believes that the wickets will suit Pakistan, who are in Group C along with Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe. “The pitches are quite similar to those in Karachi, as they offer turn and generally similar to what we see across most of Pakistan. The pitches feel familiar which is helping the team prepare well and I feel we have adapted well to the conditions.” he added.