THE World Cup-bound Zimbabwe Under-19 cricket team will play warm-up matches against Australia and hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) before their first official match at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
According to the schedule of warm-up matches announced by the ICC, the national youth team will first take on Australia in Abu Dhabi on February 10 before locking horns with UAE in Dubai two days later.
Zimbabwe will then get their Group C campaign underway against Canada on February 14, play West Indies two days before concluding their group stage matches against neighbours South Africa on February 18.
Head coach Walter Chawaguta, who has been in camp with the squad, as they intensify their preparations at the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy in Highlands said his charges were looking forward to the warm-up matches.
“It’s obviously standard procedure for all teams to play at least two matches before their first World Cup match. We always look forward to these warm-up matches as they give us an opportunity to get used to the conditions while also gauging ourselves against some of the teams before the actual World Cup starts,” said Chawaguta.
“It’s good that we are playing a strong side like Australia. We played them last year in India and it will be interesting to see how we will perform against them this time around. It will also be nice to play against the hosts UAE,” he said.
The Chawaguta-coached team received a major boost following the return of middle order batsman Ryan Burl from injury.
Burl, who dislocated his shoulder while fielding at the Franchise Cubs week in South Africa last month recently started training with the team ahead of the World Cup.
“Obviously we are very happy to have Ryan Burl training with the team again. He has been doing some fielding and batting but has not been doing any bowling at this stage. It’s a huge boost for the team to have him back in the side as he brings lots of stability to our middle order with his calmness and experience at this level. We really missed him at the Cubs Week and it’s nice to have him back,” said Chawaguta.
Zim Under 19 Squad: Malcolm Lake (captain), Luke Jongwe, Stephen Kamhunukamwe, Kieran Geyle, Joylord Gumbie, Charles Kunje, Patrick Mambo, Cuthbert Musoko, Hebert Chikomba, Deven Bell, Ryan Burl, Tarisai Musakanda, Dylan Hondo, Mkhululi Nyathi, Shaun Handirisi