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Cricket | U19 World Cup

Aiden Markram © Gallo Images

Best-player Markram ‘not at his best’



South Africa captain Aiden Markram felt he was not quite at his best on Saturday, despite playing the anchor innings to guide his side to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup title in Dubai.

Fast bowler Corbin Bosch saved his best performance in the tournament for the title match when he claimed four for 15, and wicketkeeper Clyde Fortuin collected six catches behind the wickets as Pakistan was bundled out for 131 in 44.3 overs after electing to bat first.

Markram then held one end together as he scored an unbeaten 66 to guide his team home in 42.1 overs. Markram, who faced 125 balls and hit six fours, was well assisted by Greg Oldfield, who contributed 40 in a 71-runs partnership for the third wicket to help the side recover after South Africa was reduced to 28 for two.

Markram was declared player of the tournament for scoring 370 runs in the tournament, which saw him strike two centuries and one half-century.

A delighted Markram later said: “It feels amazing. This is the first win for South Africa at a global ICC event, so I can’t even describe how I feel right now. The boys are over the moon.”

Talking about his match-winning innings, Markram felt he was not at his best. “It was one of those innings where it didn’t feel great, but I am really glad that I could stick it out.”

Markram felt the tournament was a great learning curve for his side. “The team has performed really well in the tournament, and it has been a great experience for all of us. We’ve learned so many things from this tournament, and there is so much that we can take from here to help us further our careers.

“The tournament has been fantastic, we are so grateful to the ICC, the organisers and every person involved in this tournament for such a great experience.

“It has been absolutely amazing having all the mums and dads here, supporting us, and I am just so glad that we could win it for them,” concluded Markram.

Pakistan captain Sami Aslam, who also played in 2012 in Townsville when his side finished eighth, said: “Obviously, we’re disappointed because we’re a much better side than the result shows. But all credit to South Africa who outplayed us. They’re a deserving champion.”

Sami defended his decision to bat first but admitted some of the batsmen did commit mistakes. “I don’t think it was a bad decision to bat first because we saw off the difficult period. Unfortunately, we lacked application and good shot selection at the top of the order. Again, we must appreciate South Africa’s bowlers who bowled very well and stuck to the plan.

“It has been a great event for everyone and I’m sure this will help the cricketers in the future. Playing in a World Cup final when you’re a teenager is a huge motivation and incentive, and I’ve no doubts that a lot of cricketers will look back at this tournament with a lot of pride and satisfaction.”

Pakistan was rocked by some inspired and quality bowling by South Africa’s pace quartet of Kagiso Rabada, Ngazibini Sigwili, Justin Dill and Corbin Bosch, who consistently bowled in the corridor of uncertainty and forced the Pakistan batsmen into playing false strokes.

Sami Aslam (16), Imam-ul-Haq (12), Hasan Raza (15) and Kamran Ghulam (0) were all caught at the wicket by Fortuin, who later also accounted for Saifullah Khan (1) and Karamat Ali (1) to finish with six catches in the match.

It is the first time since Australia’s Darren Barry in the inaugural event in 1988 that a wicketkeeper had taken six catches behind the wickets, though Sri Lanka’s Charith Sylvester sits on the top of the tree when he dismissed eight batsmen behind the wickets (eight dismissals: four catches and four stumpings) in the 2002 tournament.

After Rabada provided the vital breakthrough when he dismissed Imam, Dill picked up the prized wickets of Sami and Hasan before Bosch ripped the heart out of Pakistan middle-order with some aggressive and accurate fast bowling.

Bosch, the 19-year-old from Durban, bowled to a teasing line and length to return match figures of 7.3-2-15-4. Bosch finished the tournament with nine wickets, while Rabada ended up with 14 wickets and Dill with 12 scalps.

Talking about his performance, Bosch said: “It was great to get out there and give my best performance in the final. I am so happy and to have played well for the boys and in the final is just great.”

The right-arm fast bowler said his father, the late former South Africa test bowler Tertius Bosch, was his biggest motivation. “I did it for my dad. This week and all through the tournament, I have been doing it for my dad. It's his birthday this weekend,” he said.

“This is the first time that South Africa has won a global event, and to be part of that is amazing. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but I hope it does soon, and then we’ll go out with all of the boys and celebrate,” added Bosch.

The next ICC U19 Cricket World Cup will be staged in Bangladesh in 2016 and details will be announced in due course.

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