An opening win against West Indies means the hosts are well-placed to qualify for the knockouts, but with South Africa also in their group, and hence a net run-rate tie-breaker a possibility, they’ll want a big win to boost theirs.
For Kenya, qualifying from a group containing three Full Members was always going to be a tough ask, especially now that they’ll need to win both their remaining games against West Indies and New Zealand. But they showed in patches against South Africa that they could compete, and just one shock would make their tournament a resounding success.
Along with India, New Zealand’s performance in the first round was one of the most impressive as they overcame a spirited and talented West Indies side – this competition’s holders – with relative ease thanks to a Finn Allen century. Before the tournament they beat Zimbabwe in a warm-up game and in three games in December, those victories bookending a five-wicket loss loss to Pakistan.
Kenya showed resilience in their first game, managing to bat out their 50 overs in the face of an impossible match situation against South Africa. They were outclassed, but a superb Raynard van Tonder century made the gap between the two sides look wider than it perhaps was. Kenya lost their sole warm-up game heavily to Canada, and were thumped in five games in Zimbabwe before that. However, they are no strangers to ripping up the form book in the face of impossible odds – to qualify for this tournament, needing a huge net run-rate swing, they bowled out Uganda for 60 before chasing down their target in 8.3 overs. Had they faced just four balls more, they would have finished behind their opponents in the group standings.
Players to watch
Rachin Ravindra (NZ)
New Zealand’s Young Player of the Year in 2016, Ravindra enjoyed a solid outing against West Indies, taking three wickets and participating in a 46-run opening stand, but as the only member of New Zealand’s top-three not to play a significant innings, and having made starts and not gone on several times in recent months, he’ll be desperate for a big score.
Jasraj Kundi (Ken)
A bowling all-rounder, Kundi was quietly excellent against South Africa, taking two wickets at a time when his side still had hopes of restricting their opponents, and then making a lively 41 to help Kenya recover from 98/6. More of the same will be needed if Kenya are to challenge.
Head to head
New Zealand and Kenya have never before faced off at this level.
World Cup history
This is Kenya’s fourth appearance at the tournament overall, and their first since 2002. They have never reached the quarter-finals.
New Zealand are yet to win the U19 Cricket World Cup. The last time it was played in these shores, they came close, losing in the quarter-finals to eventual champions Australia. The highest they have ever placed is in 1998, when they were runners up to England. They have, however, benefitted hugely from the tournament, with a huge number of the current senior setup – Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor and Tom Latham among them – graduating from the Under 19 side. This is the third time the tournament has been held in New Zealand, and if clichés are to be believed, this is their lucky year.
After three days of glorious sunshine, showers are expected to return to Christchurch some time in the afternoon, but there should still be enough good weather to allow the fixture to be completed.
New Zealand: Kaylum Boshier (c), 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
Kenya: Sachin Bhudia (C), Maxwel Ager, Abhishekh Chidambaran, Aveet Desai, Jay Doshi, Aman Gandhi, Ankit Hirani (W/K), Jasraj Kundi, Jayant Mepani, Gerard Mwendwa, Dennis Musyoka, Thomas Ochieng, Sukhdeep Singh, Siddharth Vasudev, Rene Were
This article first appeared on ICC-Cricket.com, reproduced with permission.