England vs West Indies | Friday 29 January | Chittagong | 04:45
England will take on the West Indies in game seven of the ICC Under 19 World Cup at the Zayur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Friday morning.
England head into the game fresh off a 299-run trouncing of tournament minnows, Fiji while the West Indies have yet to play a game in this year’s competition.
To Win Match *Odds to be updated on release
England had little trouble last time out when they brushed aside Fiji in a 299-run rout that would have no doubt left the islanders deflated and dejected. For England, however, it was just the performance they needed before taking on some of the competitions’ stronger nations.
Having won the toss and electing to bat, the English openers wasted no time in getting stuck into the Fijian bowling attack with Dan Lawrence helping himself to 12 runs off the first over. They would lose their first wicket in the third over as Max Holden was sharply caught at point off the bowling of Cakacka Tikoisuva.
That would be as much joy as the Fijians would experience on the day as the second-wicket partnership between Lawrence and number three, Jack Burnham would be worth 325 runs and would only be broken in the 47th over. Lawrence ended his innings on 174 while Burnham fell agonisingly short of his 150 after he was dismissed by Jack Charters for 148.
While the English batting was superb, their bowling was even better. The Fijians would have gone into the innings changeover with no real hope of winning the match, but would at least be looking to give a good account of themselves with the willow in hand. It wasn’t to be, however. Saqib Mahmood and Sam Curran were the pick of the English bowlers, picking up three wickets apiece.
Mahmood’s figures really stood out though. In four overs, the Birmingham-born seamer only conceded two runs on his way to picking up his three wickets. The only Fijian to put up any sort of resistance was Peni Vuniwaqa ground out 36 runs from 74 balls.
The English will be brimming with confidence after their dismantling of the Fijians, however, the West Indies will provide much sterner competition. I don’t expect the side’s management to make any changes heading into their next fixture.
I’m going to be honest, I’ve never seen any of the West Indies U19 squad in action before. What I do know, though, is that they have had better preparation than most teams in the lead-up to the tournament.
They arrived in Bangladesh earlier than all of the other teams to take part in a three-match U19 series against the tournament hosts, Bangladesh. Although they were beaten in all three matches, they did show improvement as they acclimatised to the alien conditions of the Sub-Continent.
One player who did stand out in that series was opening batsman Gidron Pope. He top scored for his side in the first and third game while he struggled a bit in the second. Another player to keep an eye on is the side’s skipper, Shimron Hetmyer. He’s the only player in the side with any First-Class or List A experience. He struggled in the warm-up games against Bangladesh, however, his 136 a few days later against Scotland underlined his undeniable quality. If the Windies are to have any chance of claiming victory over the English, they’re going to need both of these guys to come to the party.
They remain something of an unknown force at the moment with the English unaware of how these guys actually play. This is something to keep in mind when the teams take to the field on Friday morning.
The English will be buzzing after opening their account in emphatic style against the Fijians on Wednesday morning. They should have far too much quality for this West Indian team. Back them to claim their second win of the tournament.