Cape Town - Over a billion people are expected to watch the live broadcast of the opening match of the ICC U19 World Cup Bangladesh 2016 between the Coca-Cola SA U19s and the hosts, Bangladesh.
An additional 30 000 people will watch the sold-out match at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Wednesday, 27 January.
South Africa’s captain, Tony de Zorzi believes that his side is ready for the challenges lying ahead and that they have done all the preparation that they could to reach this point.
“Our training over the last few weeks has been going well,” he said this afternoon during his pre-match discussion with the local media.
“The guys are in high spirits before the game and everything is looking positive on our side. We’ve just got to go out there, do our jobs and enjoy it.”
Having struggled against spin bowling in the recent past, de Zorzi believes his side has overcome those difficulties.
“Everyone has tried to make sure that their game plan against spin bowling is fool-proof. We’re sitting in a position now where we are comfortable with ourselves and our abilities and have done all the preparation that we can do when it comes to batting against spin.”
When asked about the pressures of being defending champions and playing against the hosting team, de Zorzi said:
“I think the pressure is equal on both sides. They (Bangladesh) have a lot to play for and so do we. They will have 30 000 fans at the stadium wanting them to win, which would be stressful to any 18-year-old and we’ll have our own goals that we want to achieve as well. I think whoever rises to the occasion the best on the day will be victorious.”
Team coach, Lawrence Mahatlane is excited to get the tournament underway after months of preparation.
“The team is in a really good space at the moment, “ he said. “They are relaxed because they have been to Bangladesh before, they have played cricket here, they’ve played the opposition here and back home in South Africa and there is a certain comfort in that. Tomorrow’s result will go to the team that gets their game plan right.
“I’m very happy with the preparation so far. I’m very happy with the squad of 15 that we picked. We’ve given ourselves a lot of options in terms of batting and bowling, the guys know and understand their roles and responsibilities and how to go about executing them.”
Mahatlane believes that the team that can execute the three cricketing disciplines the best, will come out on top.
“It’s been exciting for me to watch our processes come together. I have to thank Cricket South Africa (CSA) for the support they have given me to ensure that we get all the right people sharing the right information with the players. The way the team has just soaked up the knowledge and put it into practice, I can’t ask for any more as a coach. Tomorrow will just be about execution,” he concluded.