Clyde Fortuin has been in fine form for South Africa Under-29 setup.Photo Courtesy: Clyde Fortuin’s Facebook page
Clyde Fortuin has been in fine form for South Africa Under-19 setup. Photo Courtesy: Clyde Fortuin’s Facebook page

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

Dubai: Feb 28, 2014

 

Pakistan and South Africa clash in the all-important final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. On one hand, you have three-time champions Australia, whereas on the other side, you have two time finalists, South Africa. But, past history shouldn’t matter, at least psychologically, as these teams don’t carry the baggage of their predecessors. It is a fresh day, a new tournament, a new batch waiting to write its name in junior cricket history. Will Pakistan get their fourth title or would South Africa get their first?

 

This is very much a bowl first wicket at Dubai one would say. In the last semi-final at the venue, the South African openers erased doubts, as they put up a good stand after batting first. Plus, there isn’t any dew in the evening, so teams would back themselves to put the runs on the board. That should help them put the pressure, if they get a good score after batting first. The toss of the coin could be quite crucial for this game, but a par score is somewhere around that 220-230. Even when teams have chased it down in the tournament, they have huffed and puffed along the way.

 

South Africa will rely on Aiden Markram, the skipper and Clyde Fortuin to get them to a good score early on. They have been a solid opening pair in this tournament and can produce the goods for their side. Then, Kirwin Christoffels at No 3 is also a good bet and he can be a good foil to the openers. In the middle-order, it is Yaseen Valli who is their main man. He can take the attack to the opposition and also hold fort to guide the innings. Corbin Bosch and Greg Oldfield are some of the other batsmen who can do the job.

 

South Africa’s bowling is very strong with Kagiso Rabada being the star. He bowls at a fair clip and can bounce the ball. He is in top form after the six for 25 he took against Australia in the semi-final. Justin Dill and Bosch can also help him out. Valli and Dirk Bruwer then complete the attack. This attack will face a good test against Pakistan.

 

Pakistan is quite top heavy batting wise with skipper Sami Aslam and Imam-ul-Haq scoring most of the runs. There is a cloud over Imam’s fitness for this tournament, as he injured himself during the semi-final. Shakeel can play a responsible hand and he would be their main man in the middle-order along with Kamran Ghulan and Hasan Raza. Even Ameer Hamza can play with responsibility, as he showed during the semi-final. But, the cherry on the cake came from a lower-order partnership from Zafar Gohar and Amad Butt. They did play sensibly and showed that Pakistan bat deep.

 

In the bowling department, Zia-ul-Haq leads the way with his left-arm pacers. Butt is the other seam bowler. Pakistan may place a lot of emphasis on spin with Karamat Ali, the leg-spinner, Ghulam and Gohar being the left-arm spinners.

 

It is time to crown the young champions of the world. Both teams have had a splendid run coming into the final and are strong units in their own right. But, expect more support for the Pakistan team as it is a Saturday, and the expatriate crowd based in the city might come over to the stadium in anticipation of some good cricket.

 

Squads:

 

Pakistan: Sami Aslam (c), Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Hasan Raza, Zafar Gohar, Amad Butt, Saifullah Khan (wk), Zia-ul-Haq, Ameer Hamza, Karamat Ali, Saud Shakeel, Imran Rafiq, Irfanullah Shaikh, Mohammad Aftab, Mohammad Umair.

 

South Africa: Adrian Markram (c), Clyde Fortuin (wk), Kirwin Christoffels, Yaseen Valli, Jason Smith, Corbin Bosh, Bradley Dial, Justin Dill, Kagiso Rabada, Ngazibini Sigwili, Andile Phelhukwayo, Dirk Bruwer, Greg Oldfield, Bradley Bopp, Sibonele Makhayanya.

 

Time: 13:30 IST | 08:00 GMT

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)