South Africa captured the ICC Junior World Cup for the first time on Saturday after defeating Pakistan by six wickets with 47 balls remaining in the final in Dubai. Previously, South Africa’s best results were runners-up finishes in 2002 and 2008.
Well led by captain Aiden Markram, who was named Player of the Tournament, the Baby Proteas’ bowlers dominated the final, but their batsmen were made to work hard for victory by Pakistan.
After losing the toss, South Africa bowled first. The Dubai wicket is home to the Pakistanis and was expected to suit their spin attack more than the South Africans’ pace attack, but coach Ray Jennings’ charges bowled with impressive discipline to dismiss Pakistan for only 131.
Corbin Bosch, the son of the late Tertius Bosch, who opened the bowling in the Proteas’ very first test back from isolation against the West Indies in 1992, led the way with a superb return of 4 for 15 in 7.3 overs. He was well supported by spinner Yaseen Valli (2 for 19), Justin Dill (2 for 29) and fiery speedster Kagiso Rabada (1 for 26).
Wicketkeeper Clyde Fortuin excelled too, claiming six catches to finish with 20 dismissals in the tournament, double the number of any other wicketkeeper in the tournament.
Some late hitting by number nine batsman Amad Butt, who finished undefeated with 37, helped Pakistan past the 100-mark as he and Zafar Gohar (22) put on 35 for the eighth wicket.
A tough, small total to chase
South Africa needed only 132 for victory, but Pakistan bowled tightly to make it a tough, small total to chase.
Fortuin departed early for a single and Jason Smith followed for nine, but Markram stood firm and added 71 for the third wicket with Greg Oldfield before Oldfield departed for a valuable 40, with the total on 99.
There were a few flutters in the South African team when Valli was bowled for one, but Bradley Dial and Markram saw the team through to victory with an unbroken stand of 34, with Markram finishing undefeated with 66 off 125 balls, while Dial ended with 14 not out.
‘It feels amazing’
“It feels amazing,” the South African captain said afterwards. “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.
“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.”
‘A wonderful day for South African cricket’
“Winning the U-19 World Cup for the first time is a wonderful day for South African cricket to celebrate,” Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO Haroon Lorgat said in a statement on Saturday. “Without exception, we are all very impressed by the manner in which our under-19 team won this World Cup.
“The way they dominated today’s final from the very first ball, and being the only team unbeaten throughout the tournament, showed all the hallmarks of a championship team.
“I would like to extend warm congratulations from the CSA family and indeed from the whole nation to coach Ray Jennings, captain Aiden Markram and all the other players and members of the squad for this inspiring achievement.
“There are a lot of other people who need to be thanked for assisting in the selection and preparation of the side. It is rewarding to see our development structures producing a winning team and such good players.
“To have the best team in the world at test and under-19 level is worth celebrating. As South Africans we can all be justifiably proud.”