India and New Zealand will face off in the first-ever ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final on Friday and both teams are thrilled at the opportunity that awaits them in Potchefstroom.

In a contest worthy of the final itself, England and Australia will square off in the second semi-final later in the day.

New Zealand’s young side have kept a low profile throughout the tournament, navigating their way to the final four undefeated. Well led by Izzy Sharp, the Kiwis are looking to play their very best cricket as they enter the business end of the tournament.

“We are very proud of how far we have come, and I am extremely proud to be captain of this team,” Sharp said of her team’s journey to this point.

“It’s been a privilege and captaincy has brought the best out of me. We’ve been soaking up this experience of the first ever ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup as a team, and we have a great team of staff that keeps us on track,” she added.

Leg-spinner Kate Chandler, batters Emma McLeod and Georgia Plimmer, as well as the all-round contributions of Anna Browning have been central to New Zealand’s success thus far. They have also been razor-sharp in their fielding, and they will need to build on that on Friday morning.

In typical New Zealand fashion, Sharp said they were happy to be the less fancied side in their clash against India.

“We are happy to be the underdogs. We are keeping our focus on us, and not them,” she added.

India captain, Shafali Verma, explained that they were equally excited to be amongst the first four teams to play in a semi-final of this tournament.

“We are really happy to be here and excited for what will come. We are backing each other and just enjoying South Africa,” she said cheerfully.

Verma added that she had sought advice from former India captain and tournament ambassador, Mithali Raj.

“I have been learning day by day, but I also looked at how she was doing things. I spoke to her before the World Cup, and she just told me to keep calm and to believe in myself and the team,” she explained.

India had one blip at the start of the Super Six stage, when they lost to Australia, but they bounced back immediately and have had their match-winners, Parshavi Chopra, Shweta Sehrawat, the dangerous Richa Ghosh and the skipper, producing the goods ever since.

“We are in the semis and we know what we need to do. These next two games are very crucial. Every player knows that doing well here can get them to the senior level, going forward. We just want to do well for the country,” she said ahead of the clash against New Zealand.

Both captains reiterated their delight at being part of this historic tournament, adding that it was wonderful to see so many countries participating and really developing their cricket through exposure to top competition.

via ICC (Times in IST)

Australia vs England

The rivalry between the nations is long and storied at senior level and both England’s Grace Scrivens and Rhys McKenna of Australia are chomping at the bit to play for a chance to be in Sunday’s final.

The pair have relished the added responsibility of leading their countries on such a massive occasion at this stage of their young careers.

“It’s a privilege to captain any team, never mind an Australian side. I have learned a lot, and I think this has been really good for my cricket,” McKenna enthused.

Scrivens said she had embraced the responsibility and noted that the supporters that have travelled to South Africa have given them a massive boost.

“We have had a real Barmy Army here, cheering us on. Hopefully, we can keep making them proud,” she said ahead of their biggest game of the tournament so far.

“There is a good vibe in the camp, and everyone is playing really good cricket at the moment, which is really nice to see,” she said of her side’s form in the tournament so far.

Australia started the tournament with a loss to Bangladesh but have been undefeated since then. McKenna called it the wake-up call they needed.

“That first loss kicked us into gear, and we’ve been playing pretty good cricket since then. I think we are peaking at the right time, and it should be a good match,” she explained.

England have dominated their matches thus far, with several batters in fine form. Scrivens is hopeful that they will continue in a similar vein when it matters most.

“I am extremely proud of the girls because they’ve been amazing all tournament. If they can carry that into the semis, that will put us in a really good space.”

While the stocks are higher than ever now, both teams have not lost sight of the bigger picture. Playing against nations whose cricket pedigrees are still developing such as Rwanda, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States of America (USA), has been eye-opening for the captains, and getting the opportunity to watch them make their own mark in the tournament and talk to them about it after, has given these more established teams memories that they will cherish.

“It has been a real honour playing against them. They have reminded us what cricket is all about, because they are so down to earth,” Scrivens said of heartwarming nations such as Rwanda and Indonesia.

McKenna spent time with UAE captain Theertha Satish, who shared her incredible journey to this point.

“She has only been playing cricket for three years, which is pretty remarkable! There is no way I could have done what she has in that time,” she saluted.

“It has been pretty cool to see other teams, get to know them and hang out with them (at the team hotel),” she said of the close-knit nature of the tournament in South Africa.

Now, of course, England and Australia must focus solely on delivering their best cricket on the field, as they battle for a spot in the first-ever ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup final.

Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.