Kenya’s uphill task against SA: Coach has high hopes ahead of tomorrow’s opener

By Elizabeth Mburugu: Saturday, January 13th 2018 at 00:07 GMT +3 | Cricket
Under 19 crickets players receive sports Kits Under 19 crickets players,Sachin Bluidia captian,Maxwell Ager,Aman Gandhi and Rene Were,display their sports kits at Simba union on 22nd December 2017.[Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

National squad returns to the global showpiece after 16-year absence.

Kenya will be hoping for a good start when they take on giants South Africa tomorrow in their opening match of 2018 International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup at Lincoln Number Three Grounds at Lincoln University in New Zealand.

The juniors are out to stamp authority in the world stage and Jimmy Kamande, the under-19 coach, said they were ready to take on the fancied South Africans.

“We are the underdogs because we are the lowest ranked team in this competition but we want to improve our ranking with good shows as we start off with South Africa,” Kamande told Standard Sports by phone from New Zealand yesterday.

Kenya are pooled in a tough Group A alongside defending champions West Indies and hosts New Zealand, who face off in the opening match today.

Kamande said his charges are in the New Zealand as “serious competitors and not just participants.”

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“The boys have been training well. We qualified and prepared to compete against the world’s best and not just participate in the World Cup.

"We have resolved to play our best cricket and get positive results,” he said.

On South Africa, Kamande said the squad comprises cricketers who play for top clubs.

“The World Cup is a great opportunity for our players to learn from others.

"And owing to their high standards in the sport, South Africa is one of the teams with top players in this competition and it is an experience for our players to meet them,” Kamande said.

Although the showpiece is an age-group event where new stars are nurtured, he said, players in the contest stand out as prospective world class cricketers.

“This is where it starts and I’m glad that our players are also here to launch their careers and gain exposure because this tournament will boost their confidence and yield success in the senior level,” he said.

Kenya returns to the global junior cadre event after failing to qualify for the last 16 years.

Kenya booked World Cup slot after winning the Africa qualifiers in Nairobi in July last year.

Even though they required a superior run rate to qualify having lost to Uganda in the first round of the qualifiers, the Kenyan boys put up spirited fight to beat Uganda by seven wickets in 8.3 overs and seal World Cup spot.

They dismissed Uganda for 60 in 17.1 overs.

In the run up to tomorrow’s World Cup match, Kenyan lads played Zimbabwe and Sydney Thunder of Australia before heading to New Zealand.