"Babyproteas" face destiny

2014-02-28 19:30
Ray Jennings (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The South Africa Under-19 cricket team are set to take the fight to Pakistan in the final of the ICC U19 World Cup in Dubai on Saturday.

"It's a great honour for us to be here and to play in the final," captain Aiden Markram said on Friday.

"This is what we have all dreamed of for years and to be within touching distance of the ultimate dream means more to the team than I can say.

"We will definitely go into the match with ruthless intent."

South Africa, who are the only undefeated side in the tournament, have yet to win an U19 World Cup, despite featuring in two finals in 2002 and 2008, while Pakistan have two titles under their belt.

Proteas U19 coach Ray Jennings said he was pleased with the team's conduct so far, both on and off the field.

"The tournament so far has been good," Jennings said.

"What has excited me the most is that each game has been a team effort and the spirit among the whole squad is strong and based around respect, pride and genuine care for each other.

"Every player is contributing, irrespective of whether he is carrying drinks or on the field."

The young Proteas beat Australia by a convincing 80 runs in the semi-final at the Dubai Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

South Africa, who are still undefeated in the tournament, including the warm-up matches, will play in their third U19 World Cup final when they take on Pakistan on Saturday.

Jennings said their performance in the semi-finals was another step towards a seamless style of play and they had to approach Saturday's game with maximum commitment.

"In order to beat Pakistan, we will need to be at our best, we will need to show intent and will need to focus on the game and not the hype of the players or the crowd," he said.

"It will be an ultimate test of our concentration and big match temperament.

"We are working towards peaking at the right time and have the opportunity to make history."


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