Cape Town - Following an energy-sapping, winless period for all involved with the programme, the South African under-19s’ five-wicket victory over their Indian counterparts in the third Youth One-Day International (ODI) match in East London on Monday has been welcomed by head coach, Lawrence Mahatlane.
Although the junior Proteas went down two games to one in the three-match series, the victory at the Buffalo Park Stadium was more than just a consolation for Mahatlane. The coach believes it is all part of the process of preparing the team for the ICC under-19 Cricket World Cup taking place in South Africa from January 17 to February 09, 2020.
Top order batsman, Jonathan Bird was the standout performer for the SA U19s, recording an unbeaten 88 off 121 balls (9 fours, 1 six) to help his team to 193/5 in response to India’s 192/8, with 10 balls to remaining.
“We’ve spoken about it being a building process,” Mahatlane said after the third Youth ODI. “The World Cup is coming up in three weeks and I think it’s important when you beat the world champions, you start taking belief out of it.
“I thought we bowled particularly well. We managed to strike with the new ball and the bowling and fielding unit were very good. Mondli Khumalo started nicely, he bowled steady lines and gave us some kind of control just through the pressure, and the boys fielded well,” the coach continued.
Echoing the words of his assistant and batting coach, Siya Sibiya, Mahatlane says he was pleased with the way his team approached the chase, highlighting his batsmen’s performance and how they combined well in crucial parts of the match.
“One of the keywords we used throughout this campaign has been partnerships and guys taking the responsibility. We’ve had guys get starts and not carry on and I thought Jono (Bird) batted particularly well
“There were quite a few crucial partnerships upfront, Bird and Andrew Louw and after that, we had a partnership between him and Jack Lees, which was very good,” he added.
Another telling factor in the encounter was the return of inspirational captain, Bryce Parsons, who recovered from a back injury, having missed the opening two matches.
Parsons believes the win against the reigning under-19 World Cup champions has been earned through hard work behind the scenes and will give the team confidence going forward.
“(The performance) was really good, coming into the match two-nil down, we just wanted to get back on to the park and do what we know we have to do,” Parsons stated during a post-match interview.
“This win will give the team a very good lift. We deserve it because we’ve been practising hard and we’ve just shown what we can do, beating one of the best sides in the world.”
The SA U19s and India will face off again on Friday, January 3 at the Chatsworth Stadium in Durban to kick off the Youth ODI Quadrangular series that also features New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
- Cricket SA