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Under-19 cricket team primes for World Cup

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BY Paul Vutete / Courage Nyaya
Despite encountering several hurdles, the Zimbabwe national Under-19 cricket team is optimistic of competing at the International Cricket Council Under-19 World Cup to be played in the West Indies between January and February.

The team has been training at the Harare Sports Club this week ahead of its scheduled departure for the Caribbean Islands at the weekend.

Assistant coach and former Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura admitted that they did not enjoy the best of preparations, especially due to COVID-19 travel challenges as well as lockdowns over the last two years.

Only this week have they managed to gather all the players at the same place at the same time with some of the players having been excused so that they could sit for their examinations.

“Today we have the whole team present and training which is the first time we have managed to have the whole group together. In the last few weeks some of the kids have been writing exams, so we only managed to have individual and small cluster training sessions,” he said. “During the year, we also had COVID-19 challenges, so the preparations have not been the best. Remember we were supposed to tour South Africa but it was also cancelled because of the pandemic. But, this is something that has affected even the teams that we will face in the West Indies, so we hope that we can do as much in the little time and try and compete.”

Zimbabwe are in the same pool as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea. The top two teams qualify for the Super League stages while the bottom two drop to contest in the  Plate.

They will kick off the campaign with a match against Afghanistan on January 16 before taking on Pakistan four days later, and rounding up their group matches against Papua New Guinea on January 22.

Zimbabwe made the second round of the Under-19 World Cup on three occasions in South Africa [1998], Bangladesh [2004] and Sri Lanka [2006]. In all those, Zimbabwe emerged from the first round undefeated

Captain Emmanuel Bawa the only player in the squad to have played at the last edition, is excited to lead his team for the first time at a global stage.

“I’m very pleased to lead the team at such a global stage,” he said. “In terms of the preparations we were affected by the pandemic to such an extent that we had to cancel some of our scheduled tours.”

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