Into the unknown: NZ will have to think on its feet

India under-19 player Prithvi Shaw poses with the trophy after  his team’s fifth Youth ODI match...
India under-19 player Prithvi Shaw poses with the trophy after his team’s fifth Youth ODI match against England U19s at The Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton, England, last August. Photo: Getty Images
New Zealand coach Paul Wiseman was not giving much away before the under-19 World Cup campaign gets under way in Mount Maunganui today.

Then again, he claims there is not much to give away.

Scouting has proved a little tricky, with so many of the players the home team will come up against largely unknown.

The beauty of this tournament is the top players do not stay there long.

They go on to forge wonderful international careers, as Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Kane Williamson have done.

When asked about his side’s expectations, Wiseman played a straight bat.

"It is always hard to know because we don’t know that much about the opposition," he said.

"We’ve heard bits and pieces but we don’t know how good our guys will be against them because, compared to most of the teams, we haven’t been having series prior to this.

"So we don’t actually know where we sit. But I think we’ve got a decent group of cricketers here. 

"They’ve got some good cricketing heads on them. They just haven’t had a lot of game time together at this stage."

Wiseman has been involved in two previous under-19 World Cups. He co-coached with Matt Horne in 2012 and assisted Bob Carter in 2016.

While he was reluctant to be drawn on how the side might perform, he was confident there were "some very good future provincial cricketers and even Black Caps" in the squad.

Otago has supplied two quality young players who seem to fit Wiseman’s description — wicketkeeper Max Chu and left-arm spinner Ben Lockrose.

"They are our two youngest players at 17. But having said that, they are both very mature.

"Ben has come from nowhere quite quickly and seems to have handled every level he has gone to.

"And Max is a really tidy keeper and has some ability with the bat, as well.

"They are two really good cricketers and should be good future players for the Volts and, hopefully, get a bit further."

Lockrose made his Otago debut in a twenty20 game at Molyneux Park last month and took a wicket in his maiden over, while Chu is potentially one injury away from making the Otago team.

Wiseman felt his side would get a better understanding of where it was placed in relation to the other teams following its opening match against the West Indies in Mount Maunganui today.

The West Indies is the defending champion but perhaps India and Australia shape as the sides to watch.

"We will do some scouting but it is basically about us and what we are trying to do.

"We will have to do a lot of thinking on our feet and adapt as we go."

The format is nice and simple. There are four pools of four teams. The top two teams from each pool progress  to the quarterfinals. Win that and the semifinals await and from there, the winners get to contest the February 3 final.

The Queenstown Events Centre is hosting nine games, including a quarterfinal and the playoff for third and fourth.

India has a couple of players to watch out for. The captain, Prithvi Shaw, has scored five first-class hundreds and three 50s in nine games, while team-mate Shubman Gill has two first-class games to his name.

Australian captain Jason Sangha has also scored a first-class hundred.

He is being compared with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting.


U19 Cricket World Cup
New Zealand’s draw

v West Indies, today, Mt Maunganui
v Kenya, January 17, Christchurch
v South Africa, January 20, Mt Maunganui

Squad: Kaylum Boshier (captain), Finn Allen, Jakob Bhula, Max Chu, Katene Clarke, Matthew Fisher, Luke Georgeson, Ben Lockrose, Callum McLachlan, Felix Murray, Sandeep Patel, Dale Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Connor Sullivan, Todd Watson.

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