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ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014: Chokers tag did not weigh South Africa down

ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014: Chokers tag did not weigh South Africa down
South Africa won their first ICC Under-19 World Cup, defeating Pakistan by six wickets on Saturday at Dubai © IDI/Getty Images

Dubai: Mar 1, 2014

South Africa Under-19 broke the Rainbow Nation’s drought for a world title at Dubai and skipper Aiden Markram has said that the famous “Chokers” tag did not have any bearing on the team’s psyche in the lead-up to the final against Pakistan. The South African senior side last won a world title in 1998 when they lifted the knock-out in Bangladesh and their junior side lifted the ICC Under-19 World Cup with a six-wicket win over Pakistan at Dubai on Saturday.

When asked whether the choker’s tag affected them, Markram said, “No not at all. I think it is just a phrase that has been thrown around and I frankly think it has just been bad timing for the senior Proteas side when they have been knocked out. So, the chokers emblem, hopefully we have got rid of it to an extent. To answer your question, I don’t think it played on our minds much.”

The South African bowlers bowled very well to bundle Pakistan out to 131. Chasing that score, South Africa were in a spot of bother at 28 for two and the crowd was right behind Pakistan. Yet, Markram displayed nerves of steel as he calmly guided the chase and took them through to victory. Speaking about the experience of playing in front of such a huge crowd, “The crowd was intimidating. I don’t think we have played in front of so many people that are so loud that it just echoes throughout the whole stadium. So, it made it that much more difficult for us, but it’s just one of those things where they are getting on top of you and you got to knuckle down and try and get the job done.”

Markam also set that the feeling of winning hadn’t sunk in when he faced the press, “Yeah. I think the boys must be ecstatic. I don’t quite think it has settled in yet, but knowing that you are world champions, it’s a special feeling.”

While the bowlers did a fantastic job, Markram and Greg Oldfield ultimately laid the platform for a successful run-chase. Speaking about the crucial partnership, Markram said, “Till the last runs are scored, there is a potential problem around the corner. When you are 28 for two, there are lots of thoughts that go through your head. The partnership with Greg Oldfield was a crucial one. His role today has been very under the radar and hasn’t been praised, but I thought he batted really well and I am happy we built that partnership.”

South Africa now head home with the trophy and would certainly be welcomed with pride. This has been a fantastic performance for them as they have come through to the final unbeaten.

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