By Bariyo Brian Tumuramye
Uganda is in a tough-looking group B alongside India, Ireland and South Africa, but will be desperate to make an impact after so long away from a major finals.
Captain Pascal Murungi says his team’s performance levels and overall development, is just as important as their results. He believes just to have the experience of a World Cup is already a huge success.
“For us every game will be like a final,” Murungi explained. “We’ll try to give the best of ourselves. It is not about us saying ‘we have to win two games or it’s a failure’. Our mind-set is totally different, but we just want to show what we can do.”
Although his team lost to Scotland in their final warm-up game the performance-levels didn’t concern the Ugandan skipper.
He added: “That was a warm-up game and we were trying a few different strategies, it was all part of the final preparation. I think now we are ready to deliver our best over the next few weeks. We just want to get the best out of ourselves I believe we can do that.”
Scotland Captain Charlie Peet says his team are looking to take inspiration from their senior counterparts ahead of the ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup starting this week.
The Scots begin their campaign on Friday against Sri Lanka in Guyana, before also taking on the host nation West Indies and Australia.
Peet’s team may only have been at the World Cup as a late replacement for New Zealand, who withdrew over quarantine issues, but the skipper believes Scotland can once again impress on the international stage.
He said: “The senior team are obviously a huge inspiration for what they did at the T20 World Cup [making the Super 12s].
“Quite a few of our guys play with and rub shoulders with the first team quite a lot, so to see them put in those sorts of performances against the best teams in the world gives us the inspiration to think that we can do the same.”
The left-arm spinner also revealed that, while his team are raring to go now preparation is complete, the news on their participation took a while to sink in.
He added: “It was obviously a pretty big surprise for us to find out we’d qualified when we were all extremely disappointed with the way the qualifiers turned out. It was quite surreal when we were told, it didn’t really sink in for a while.
“But after that we got straight back into training and we had a good couple of tough months at the indoor centre.”
Former-finalists Sri Lanka have also been given a tough draw on paper. They will face three-time champions Australia and host nation the West Indies, as well as Scotland in Group D. But facing the Scots first could provide an opportunity for Farveez Maharoof’s team to build momentum in their attempt to qualify for the Super League play-offs.
They also laid down a marker with a warm-up win over Ireland on Monday. Skipper Dunith Wellalage says his side are in a good frame of mind heading into their opener and believes they will have the required fight to challenge their first-round opponents.
“We have a good side and my players are really excited for the World Cup,” he said. “We’re in a good mind-set and this World Cup is a good opportunity for us. In the last few months, we played a first series against Bangladesh and then a second against England.
“After that we went to the Asia Cup and were the runners-up. Now we’re at the World Cup and have prepared really well. Our strength is our batting. We have a good batting line-up and a good balanced side.
“The first match we play is Scotland and then Australia and West Indies. I think the West Indies and Australia are good sides so I think we can give a good fight against those teams.”
Wellalage is also pleased that one of his country’s most successful captains of all-time, Mahela Jayawardene is working with the under-19 team as a consultant coach during the tournament, providing invaluable experience to the younger group.
He added: “Mahela has helped our team and he has a great knowledge. We can do a great job with him.”
Ireland captain Tim Tector, the third consecutive Tector brother to captain Ireland U19s at the World Cup spoke ahead of their first match against Uganda.
“It’s great to have them (Jack and Harry) do it before, they were able to give me a few tips before I came out here. It’s certainly a weird one being the third brother to do it – I’ve had a lot of questions about it but it’s great we’ve all been able to do it.
“Jack was the first to get into cricket, he started when he was seven or eight but where we lived a few years ago we had quite a big garden at the back, and we played a lot of backyard cricket and we were always talking about cricket around the dinner table.
“We have Uganda first up and our focus is on that first, we are pretty confident for that game but you’ve got to take it one game at a time. India will be a different challenge in itself – none of us have ever played a game on TV before so that part about it will be a bit different. There’s always going to be a few nerves about playing those big games, but I think when the time comes and when we step over the rope we will be ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea suffered a 250-loss to an impressive UAE side in Monday’s warm-up match. But their captain Barnanbas Maha is hopeful his team will be better for the experience.
He said: “We were a bit rusty after travelling. But we are here to learn and compete. And I think we can learn a lot from that match and hopefully prepare ourselves for the Pakistan game (on Saturday).”