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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dubai: Mar 1, 2014
On the big day, South Africa’s pacers rose to the occasion and lit up the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Pakistan were foxed by some good seam bowling on a deck that looked beautiful for batting as they were bowled out for 131 in the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014. Defending such a low total won’t be an easy task and Pakistan would need a splendid effort to make a fight out of it.
On what looked like a belter of a track, Sami Aslam won the toss and chose to bat. The good news for Pakistan was that Imam-ul-Haq was fit and ready for the game. South Africa made one change though as they brought in the extra bowler in Ngazibini Sigwili in place of Kirwin Christoffels.
With his semi-final exploits, Kagiso Rabada was the one to watch out and already touted as a star. But, his performances have often eclipsed the likes of Justin Dill and Corbin Bosch, two pacemen who have been absolutely crucial in the middle overs. They may not be as fast as Rabada, but back their strengths to do the job.
Early on, Imam and Aslam were solid. They had a plan to see off Rabada and then take on the other bowling. As a result, they were more proactive against Ngazibin Sigwili, who shared the new ball with Rabada. In fact, Rabada didn’t find his perfect line until his third over and once he did, Markram brought in the square-leg inside the 15-yard circle. The batsmen were in anticipation of some short stuff.
With that fielder in place, Rabada did bring in the short ones. However, he then started bowling that tantalizing line outside the off-stump. Imam edged one at last and Clyde Fortuin took his first catch for the match.
After the tenth over, Markram brought on Dill and Bosch. The floodgates opened for South Africa when Aslam, poked at a beautiful away going delivery from Dill. It was pitched around the corridor of uncertainty and Aslam, as usual, tried to defend off his front-foot, only to see the edge fly to the wicketkeeper. At that stage Pakistan were 39 for two in the 12th over.
Seven runs later, Saud Shakeel, who scripted an important knock in the previous game, fished at one outside the off-stump and was caught at gully. The same story repeated again and again! Bosch then had Kamran Ghulam edging to the wicketkeeper for a duck. Soon after Pakistan got to fifty, they lost their sixth with Bosch snaring Saifullah Khan. That was Fortuin’s fifth catch behind the stumps and it also reflects the quality of the bowling on the day.
Ameer Hamza and Zafar Gohar held on for a while as survival was the main issue. But, in the 30th over, Yaseen Valli had Hamza as he charged down and offered a simple return catch. There was some doubt whether it had gone on the full but replays confirmed that South Africa had their seventh.
At 72 for seven, Pakistan faced a tall order again. They again depended on Gohar and Amad Butt to get them out of the muddle. Things did look a little better as they played with an assured calm, stroking the odd attacking strokes. Butt was fearless as he lofted the ball easily over the infield. As a result, they added 45 and took Pakistan past 100. There was a small hiccup for South Africa as Dirk Bruwer dropped a simple chance at mid-off.
That ended Pakistan’s fight and although Butt held on a little longer, they were ultimately bowled out. Bosch was the star with three scalps to his name, but it was an overall team effort by the bowlers.
Pakistan 131 in 44.3 overs (Amad Butt 37*, Zafar Gohar 22; Corbin Bosch 4 for 15, Justin Dill 2 for 22) vs South Africa.
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