Zim U19 take on Aussies

HARARE - After comprehensively winning their opening game against Papua New Guinea (PNG), Zimbabwe can secure their passage to the quarter-finals of the 2018 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup with victory over Australia today.

Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat first in that game and restricted PNG to a below-par 95 in a match reduced to 20 overs due to rain.

Stephen Mangongo’s side went on to win the match by 10-wickets to send a statement to the rest of the teams in Group B.

In today’s match, Zimbabwe will be banking on allrounder Wesley Madhevere, who scored 53 not out to go with his bowling figures of 3 for 19 in the emphatic win over PNG.

The opening batsman and off-spinner was stellar against PNG, and could have been player of the match for his exploits in either discipline.

How Zimbabwe start with the bat against Australia could define the game, and as such, his role at the top of the order could prove pivotal.

If they don’t win however, they will almost certainly need to beat India in their final game, a most unenviable task.

Australia, meanwhile, face two must-wins if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals, having lost their opening game against India.

But with their two upcoming games on-paper easier fixtures, they will be confident of doing so. However, they have left themselves no room for a slip-up.

It’s hard to know how much heed to pay to Zimbabwe’s opening win. Not only did PNG not offer any great challenge, but the game was shortened to 20 overs a side.

Prior to that, Zimbabwe had lost four games in a row against New Zealand, including their warm-up game for this tournament, and seven of their nine ODIs in 2017.

Australia’s loss to India was preceded by a 2-0 series defeat against Pakistan. They were missing several key players for that game, however, and a 4-1 series win over Sri Lanka perhaps gives a more accurate idea of where this team is at.

One of the most highly regarded young batsmen in Australia, Jason Sangha already has a first class century against England to his name.

But he will need to do more than just bat well against Zimbabwe; with his team having struggled collectively against India, he will need to display all his captaincy skills to ensure there is no hangover from that game.

The history between the two teams shows that there are not close matches when these teams meet.

Neither team has ever gotten within 100 runs or seven wickets with the other. Australia currently lead Zimbabwe 4-1 on head-to-head, with three of those wins coming in a quadrangular series in India in 2003, and the fourth coming in their first clash during the 1998 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.

Between those, Zimbabwe triumphed by seven wickets – and with almost two-thirds of their overs remaining – as they gunned down 74 with relative ease.

Future Test cricketers Tinashe Panyangara and Elton Chigumbura claimed all 10 Australian wickets between them that day.