Now that the U19 World Cup has reached its conclusion and South Africa have been crowned champions, we decided to take an in-depth look at the players who lit up the tournament.
There have been a number of fine individual performances and eye catching displays but these are the players who topped the tournament in runs, wickets and big-hitting.
Shadman Islam (Bangladesh): 406 runs in six innings
His 126 not out from just 142 balls helped Bangladesh claim their first victory at the Abu Dhabi Oval and the left hand batsman continued to score heavily throughout the tournament. The 18-year-old twice kept his wicket intact leading to a quite stunning average of 101.50.
Imam-ul Haq (Pakistan): 382 runs in six innings
Being the nephew of former Pakistan captain and batting maestro Inzamam-ul-Haq, the 18-year-old was under huge pressure to perform in the UAE. Fortunately, his calm manner and immense talent helped him become the second-leading run scorer in the tournament with 382 runs to his name.
Ul-Haq recorded the second highest score of the tournament, firing 133 off just 137 balls in Pakistan's match against Scotland, and smashed 37 fours and two sixes.
Aiden Markram (South Africa): 370 runs in six innings
The South African captain comes in third with an outstanding average of 123.33. The right hand batsman scored two centuries in the tournament; the first coming in their third fixture against Zimbabwe – where Markram scored 120 runs in 150 balls – followed by a brilliant performance in the quarter-finals where he fired 105 in 140 balls.
His 66* in the final against Pakistan underlined his quality as he performed under intense pressure to help lead his side to victory.
TOP SIX HITTERS
Nicholas Pooran (West Indies): 13
The highest score of the tournament was achieved by this West Indian youngster. He fired a brutal 143 runs, hit 14 fours and six sixes. But it was not just this innings that caught the eye as Pooran recorded a total of 13 sixes in the tournament and boasted an impressive strike rate of 99.34.
Sanju Samson (India): 7
Despite falling to a first ball duck against England, the Indian vice-captain still managed to smash seven sixes in the tournament. The majority of the damage being done against Papua New Guinea when he scored 85 runs off just 48 balls, and consistently cleared the boundary by some distance thanks to his wonderful timing.
Robert O’Donnell (New Zealand): 6
The New Zealand skipper has had a mixed tournament but made the most of some rather poor bowling from the United Arab Emirates to knock 107 against the hosts, a century that included four sixes.
Anuk Fernando (Sri Lanka): 15 wickets in six matches
The Sri Lankan was a constant threat as he never failed to pick up less than two wickets in all six matches. He even saved his best performance for last as he claimed four wickets against Afghanistan. His economy rate was rather high at 6.12, and despite always looking dangerous he conceded the most runs of any bowler at the tournament – 331 from his 54 overs.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa): 14 wickets in six matches
The South African posted the best bowling performance in the tournament during a sensational semi-final in which he dismissed six Australian batsmen for just 25 runs in a frankly brutal spell of fast bowling. Rabada’s sheer pace caused all sorts of problems and his average of 10.52 was the best in the competition. Expect big things from the paceman's future.
Kuldeep Yadav (India): 14 wickets in six matches
Yadav made history by claiming the first and only hat-trick of the tournament and in doing so became the first Indian to achieve that feat at a World Cup. His best bowling performance came against Papua New Guinea as he picked up four wickets for the loss of only 10 runs in his 8.2 overs.
South Africa captain Aiden Markram is hopeful his country has finally shed the tag of being ‘chokers’ after guiding his side to a six-wicket win in the final of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
Markram said the word ‘choke’ never came up in their discussions as they prepared for the final against Pakistan.
“It is a word that has been turned around. I think it has been sheer bad timing with the senior Proteas sides that they have been knocked out in tournaments,” said the captain, who scored 370 runs in 6 innings, the third highest in the tournament.
“That word never came up or played on our minds. Hopefully, we have got rid of the chokers tag to an extent with this win.”
Markram was glowing in his praise for his bowlers, especially Corbin Bosch and Justin Dill.
“We had some good plans for Pakistan and we wanted to rattle them upfront. We would have liked to strike a bit more with the new ball, but they got off to a good steady start,” Markram added.
“Those overs by Justin and Corbin were extremely crucial. They had a massive job to do. I like the way they responded.
“Each time I threw the ball up to them, you could see they were hungry and they were determined.”
Bowling hero Bosch dedicated his match-winning effort to his late father Tertius, a former South African fast bowler, who passed away when he was six.
“It was great to get out there and give my best performance in the final. I am so happy to have played well for the boys. I was hoping my time would come and I was getting inspired by the performances from the other players in the team,” said the 19-year-old.
“I did it for my dad. Inside, I have this huge belief that I am playing for him. I am here because of him. This week and all through the tournament, I have been doing it for my dad. It’s his birthday next weekend.”
South Africa Under-19 boys made history for the Rainbow Nation, becoming the first team from their country to win an ICC tournament when they beat Pakistan by six wickets in the final of the Cricket World Cup.
At the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday, they first dismissed Pakistan for paltry 131 in 44.3 overs, and then reached the target in the first ball of the 43rd over.
This was the third time South Africa reached the final of an U19 World Cup, and since readmission into global cricket in 1992, neither the seniors nor the juniors have won any ICC trophy.
The victory was set up by their superb bowling line-up, with medium-pacers Corbin Bosch and Justin Dill simply outstanding after Kagiso Rabada’s searing pace had softened up the early batsmen.
Rabada, who took 6-25 in the semi-final match against Australia, did the initial damage by removing danger man Imam-ul Haq, Pakistan’s most successful batsman in the tournament.
In company of captain Sami Aslam, Imam seemed to have negotiated the opening spell, when he edged a peach of a delivery from Rabada to wicketkeeper Clyde Fortuin in the ninth over.
Dill (2-29) and Bosch (4-15) replaced the opening bowlers and were just brilliant in their discipline and control. Together, they bowled 14 overs (seven each), with four maidens and picked up the next five batsmen giving away just 26 runs.
Bosch, the son of late South African fast bowler Tertius, who opened the bowling for South Africa in their first Test match against the West Indies on readmission, never wavered once from his line and later returned to clean bowl Zia-ul Haq to end Pakistan’s innings.
Both Dill and Bosch bowled consistently on the off stump with a slight hint of movement, and the first six Pakistan batsmen were all out caught behind the wicket, with Fortuin taking five of them.
The wicketkeeper then claimed another victim, Karamat Ali, but this time of spinner Yaseen Valli.
Even the presence of the legendary fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar in the stadium could not inspire the Pakistan bowlers as Aiden Markram played a captain’s inning of 66 not out (125 balls and six fours) and in the company of Greg Oldfield (40, 68b) took his team to a comfortable win.
Pakistan’s best chances were if their leg-spinner Karamat Ali clicked, and even though he took a wicket of his first over to reduced South Africa to 28-2 in the 12th over, he was handled very well by Markram and Oldfield.
Karamat still had some tricks up his sleeve and finally broke the third-wicket partnership when he had Oldfield (40 in 68b) caught behind by Saifullah Khan of a quicker delivery.
The third-wicket partnership was worth 71 invaluable runs. In the next over, Zia produced a gem as Valli shouldered arms to let one go, and the ball did enough to come back and clip his bails. It was 100-4 at that stage.
But Bradley Dial joined Markram and the two took South Africa past the target.