The first ever ICC Women's Under 19 World Cup semi-final takes place tonight (9PM NZT) between India and New Zealand - with the second semi-final between England and Australia following tomorrow NZT, both at JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom on Friday, 27 January local time.
New Zealand’s young side have navigated their way into the final four undefeated. Well led by Izzy Sharp, the team is looking to play their best cricket as they enter the business end of the tournament.
“We are very proud of how far we have come, and I am extremely proud to be captain of this team,” Sharp said of her team’s journey to this point.
“It’s been a privilege, and captaincy has brought the best out of me.
"We’ve been soaking up this experience of the first ever ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup as a team, and we have a great team of staff that keeps us on track."
Leg-spinner Kate Chandler, batters Emma McLeod and Georgia Plimmer and the all-round contributions of Anna Browning have been central to New Zealand’s success.
They have also been razor-sharp in the field - and they will need to build on that tonight in the big match against India.
Sharp said they were happy to be the less fancied side in their clash against India.
“We are happy to be the underdogs. We are keeping our focus on us, and not them."
India captain Shafali Verma said India was equally excited to be among the first four teams to play in a semi-final in this long awaited tournament.
“We are really happy to be here and excited for what will come. We are backing each other and just enjoying South Africa,” she said.
Verma added that she had sought advice from former India captain and tournament ambassador, Mithali Raj.
“I have been learning day by day, but I also looked at how she was doing things. I spoke to her before the World Cup, and she just told me to keep calm and to believe in myself and the team."
India had one blip at the start of the Super Six stage when they lost to Australia, but they bounced back immediately and have had their matchwinners, Parshavi Chopra, Shweta Sehrawat, the dangerous Richa Ghosh and the skipper, producing the goods ever since.
“We are in the semis, and we know what we need to do."
Both captains reiterated their delight at being part of this historic tournament, adding that it was wonderful to see so many countries participating and really developing their cricket through exposure to top competition.
India v New Zealand starts at 10h00 (SAST) and 9PM NZT at JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom.