PNG positive about first game

Sports

By PATRICIA KEAMO
THE national men’s under-19 cricket squad are gearing up for their World Cup opening match tomorrow against Zimbabwe despite losing their two warm-up matches this week by big margins.
Head coach Rodney Maha told The National yesterday that the team was still in good spirits and aimed to be competitive despite being beaten by United Arab Emirates by 232 runs on Tuesday and by 281 runs by England yesterday.
The Garamuts were supposed to face Pakistan tomorrow but the team arrived late in the West Indies so the International Cricket Council changed the fixtures.
“The change in the draw works well for us given the level Zimbabwe is in compared to England,” Maha said.“This match will give us confidence before we face Pakistan in our last pool match.”
When asked about the team’s performance in the warm-up matches, Maha said it was a good experience for the squad to play against big cricket playing nations.
“The match against UAE was an eye-opener for the team — all of whom had no experience playing abroad except the captain,” Maha said.
“We saw our failures in that match and tried to fix the issues we had in bowling and batting but we didn’t execute our game plan well against England. I’ve seen some improvements in yesterday’s match compared to Tuesday’s so we’re working on achieving small targets come Saturday.
“The boys have learnt a lot coming off the match against England and UAE so they’re looking forward to the World Cup fixtures.
“We’ll take our chances and be competitive and give our best against Zimbabwe.”
Meanwhile, Maha urged cricket fans in PNG to understand the limited experience the team had prior to facing countries like England.
“I hope people understand where these boys are coming from,” Maha said.
“Prior to these matches, the team had no experience playing abroad except the captain.
“But they’re picking up pace quickly.
“We understand that we have a responsibility (to the country) both on and off the field while we’re in West Indies for the World Cup.
“We’ll give our best tomorrow and the remaining matches.”
Fixtures: Sat, Jan 12 — PNG v Zimbabwe; Tue, Jan 18 — PNG v Afghanistan; Sat, Jan 23 — PNG Pakistan (11pm, PNG Time).

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