Even before Bradley Dial smashed Saud Shakeel’s first ball of his second over for a boundary, the general mood around the Dubai International Stadium seemed to have tilted in South Africa’s favour.
Dial’s full-blooded swing was predictably followed by the South African team rushing out on to the turf. Dial and skipper, Aiden Markram, were engulfed by their mates For when victory arrived, it was rather comprehensive. South Africa won the Under-19 World Cup with a comfortable six-wicket margin, with eight overs to spare. Captain, Markram, was declared the player of the tournament, just reward for his 370 runs at 123.33 in six matches. He also hit two centuries and a half century.
The afternoon though, belonged to Markram’s teammate. A 19-year-old from Durban seemed to have picked Saturday to announce himself, and that he did, in emphatic fashion. Corbin Bosch, came on in the 12th over with Pakistan at 41 for two. He bowled seven overs on the trot, polishing off three of Pakistan’s middle-order batsmen while giving away just 12 runs.
Though the Pakistan middle-order seemed to aid Bosch — a combination of cavalier and irresponsible stroke-play being the main culprit in all their downfalls — the seamer stuck to his task with singular focus. Most of Bosch’s deliveries were bowled on or around the off stump. The length was just short of good, one which often left the Pakistan batsmen in two minds. Instead of being watchful, they decided to hit their way out of trouble.
Bosch’s first three wickets were accounted for by identical deliveries. The ball, angled away from the batsmen, pitched on off-stump and seamed away just a touch. Pakistan’s Saud Shakeel, Kamran Ghulam and Saifullah Khan perished while trying to chase balls, which they should have left alone.
All the three batsmen were guilty of wafting at the ball, without any semblance of foot movement.
Surprisingly, none of the Pakistan batsmen seemed to have learned from the way their teammates were dismissed. Every time the ball was angled away from them, they tried to pull off drives, something which cost them dear.
Earlier, Kagiso Rabada and Justin Dill had sent both openers back with only 39 runs on the board. Half an hour later, Pakistan were facing a full blown crises.
Pakistan were seven down for 72 and if not for a face-saving stand of 45 between Zafar Gohar and Amad Butt, there was every possibility that Pakistan would have capitulated for under 100. The innings finally folded up for 131, a score which was never going to be enough on a wicket which seemed to have got slower, but nothing that would have the South Africans breaking into a sweat.
To their credit, Pakistan came out firing on all cylinders. Butt sent back the dangerous Clyde Fortuin in the fourth over, as he mistimed a pull. Leg-spinner Karamat Ali, foxed Jason Smith a few overs later with one of his trademark googlies.
At the other end though, Markram was resolute. The right-hander was happy to roll out his forward defense continued…