Sport

SMASHING JUNIORS

South Africa’s future stars have been shining at the U19 Cricket World Cup

South Africa’s future stars have been shining at the U19 Cricket World Cup
Left-arm fast bowler Kwena Maphaka has been sensational at the U19 World Cup with 18 wickets and three five-fers. (Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images)

South Africa face a tough task against India at the Under-19 World Cup on Tuesday. They will need their leading men to stand tall.

South Africa have been a force at home during the ongoing Under-19 Cricket World Cup, despite the controversy surrounding batter and former captain David Teeger.

The junior Proteas take on India on 6 February in the semifinal at Willowmoore Park in Benoni.

The purpose of the tournament is to produce stars for the future and for South Africa it certainly seems that goal has been achieved.

Left-arm fast bowler Kwena Maphaka has been the standout among an excellent group of players. The 17-year-old seamer is currently the highest wicket taker in the tournament with 18 scalps.

Maphaka’s incredible performance against Sri Lanka during the Super Six stage of the tournament – where he picked up six wickets for 21 runs – helped the home side to a 119-run victory and sealed their place in the semifinal against India.

Steve Stolk (L) and Lhuani-dre Pretorius have been in dominant form at the top of the batting order for SA U19. (Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images)

u19 cricket world cup

Steve Stolk in action during South Africa’s World Cup Super Six match against Zimbabwe at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom on 31 January 2024. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

It was Maphaka’s third five-wicket haul of the tournament – no one has achieved the feat before.

Sensationally, the Lions seamer, with his searing yorker and rip-roaring bouncer, has taken his wickets at an average of under 10 and a strike rate below 15.

Bustling all-rounder Riley Norton has been equally impressive – the broad-shouldered bowler has taken 11 wickets in only four outings.

Big shots

On the batting front the charge has been led by openers Steve Stolk and Lhuan-dre Pretorius.

Both batters are in the top 10 run getters in the tournament and have got them in quick time too, often combining to set the team up with the willow.

Stolk showed a glimpse of his full potential with the bat when he clubbed a startling 13-ball 50 against Scotland, during the group stage, to help South Africa qualify for the Super Six stage. The clean-hitting right hander finished with 86 from 37 balls to guide the Proteas to seven-wicket win.

Riley Norton of the Proteas during their U19 Cricket World Cup Super Six match against Sri Lanka in Potchefstroom. (Photo: Lee Warren / Gallo Images)

Norton is an accomplished all-rounder. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

Lhuan-dre Pretorius has often got the team off to a fast start at the top of the order, (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

Stolk’s opening partner, Pretorius, who also keeps wicket, is averaging 52.75 in the tournament, with his technique akin to Proteas icon Quinton de Kock.

South Africa’s middle order has been a bit soft when Stolk or Pretorius have failed, although Dewan Marais, Norton and skipper Juan James have played vital knocks throughout the tournament.

“When we started the tournament the objective was to make it to the semifinals and the final and that is becoming somewhat of a reality,” James said at a press conference before the semifinal against India.

“The guys are performing consistently and it’s team effort and individual performances that we are looking for.” DM

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