This year’s International Cricket Council Under-19 World Cup, which ends today in Potchefstroom, North West, has been an entertaining tournament, with some nail-biting finishes, solid individual performances and inspiring storylines.
The curtain will come down after the final between Bangladesh and India.
“I closed my shop to come and watch these boys. They look good,” a Bangladesh supporter said as South Africa took on Bangladesh in the quarterfinal earlier in the tournament. “It means a lot for the people back home. They will be treated like kings.”
In that game against South Africa, where spin was again the undoing of the junior Proteas, Rakibul Hasan announced himself to the world with a five-for, bowling with precision and accuracy.
Bowling in only four of the five innings, Hasan has the best strike rate of all the tournament’s bowlers (16.3) and is five off the wicket-taking leaders – Canada’s Akhil Kumar and Afghanistan’s Shafiqullah Ghafari, both of whom dominated their teams’ bowling performances.
From a Proteas perspective, only captain Bryce Parson stood out, leading both the team’s batting (265 runs at a 44.16 average) and bowling (five wickets at 3.49 economy) performances.
Fast bowlers Achille Cloete and Tiaan van Vuuren also impressed with their six- and five-wicket hauls, respectively, but were relatively expensive.
Odirile Modimokoane and Pheku Moletsane did well with their spin to keep the run-rate down, but failed to take many wickets.
In the batting department, Luke Beaufort and Jonathan Bird got some decent scores, but didn’t make any big performances, while Tyrese Karelse showed the power and clean hitting he is capable of in one innings of 60 not out.
It was a frustrating and disappointing home tournament for the junior Proteas as they finished eighth out of 16 teams, but coach Lawrence Mahatlane pointed out that this was the first taste of professional cricket for most of the youngsters, and that he had seen a lot of growth in the team.
The 2020 SA U-19 team. Picture: ICC/Getty Images
“We mustn’t forget that, at 19, it’s the start of a career. I sometimes think we are a bit too harsh on the youngsters and must give them the opportunity to grow. We made some mistakes, but I genuinely think these boys are some of the most special kids we’ll see,” Mahatlane said.
From an overall tournament perspective, there were no massive scores (Zimbabwe and South Africa’s 354 and 349, respectively, were the highest) or many records broken. However, that does not mean that there were no dominant performances –the West Indies and India made great showings.
The Caribbean youngsters recorded the highest margin of victory – by 264 runs – against first-time participants Nigeria. India won by 10 wickets against first-timers Japan and again by 10 wickets in the semifinal against eternal rivals Pakistan.
For India, their well-oiled and well-drilled outfit shone, with opening batsman Yashasvi Jaiswal and bowler Ravi Bishnoi leading the way.
Jaiswal leads the run-scoring table and dominates the batting records, while Bishnoi has taken 13 wickets and is key as an attacking spinner.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, India's u19 opening batsman has been in prolific form at the tournament. Picture: ICC/Getty Images
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The Afghanistan legspinner cleaned up against South Africa claiming 10 wickets over two matches against the host and bowled with such accuracy that he only conceded a miserly 112 runs in 45 overs.
The batsman of the tournament, India’s opener has a tournament average of 156, almost double that of his next counterpart. In the last five games the only time he scored less than fifty was in a 42-run chase against Japan where scored 29 not out.
The Bangladesh left arm spinner consistently took wickets with ease despite only bowling 30 overs in five matches. His ability to bowl good lines and create doubt in the batsman’s mind made him perfect to pile on the pressure against the opposition.
South Africa’s captain is primarily a batsman and showed his class and tenacity earned him the tournament’s highest individual score (121) and a place in the top three leading run getters. But it was his spin in the middle overs that provided a good pressure building mechanism.
His two man of the match performances against England and Australia showed a great all-rounder mentality and match awareness. His 66 off 41 balls lower down the order and 5/45 single-handedly won the game for West Indies, while his 61 against Australia, again lower down the order, guided the Caribbean team home easily.