Pakistan v South Africa, U-19 World Cup final, Dubai March 1, 2014

Spirited Pakistan fall in final hurdle


Having at least one subcontinent team in the final of the Under-19 World Cup was what the tournament organisers would have hoped for. It was perhaps fitting that Pakistan was one of those teams, given that the turnout is always bigger when Pakistan and India play in these parts.

A Pakistan win would have brought massive cheer to the several expectant fans who showed up in Dubai, but the team failed to deliver. It might have been stage fright on an important day such as this, but the players got a taste of playing in front of large numbers, by U-19 World Cup standards.

Sami Aslam, the captain, has been a part of two World Cups and has endured heartbreaks in both. In 2012, it was a quarter-final exit in a low-scoring thriller against India, a match which was in Pakistan's hands till India's tenth-wicket pair stole the show.

In 2014, they were bundled out for 131 in the final - just one short of their senior team's score in the 1999 World Cup final - and the results were similar. They made South Africa sweat in the beginning but couldn't sustain the intensity. Rather than look for excuses, Aslam gave due credit to the opposition and acknowledged the work put in by his own team getting to the final.

"We had played very good cricket coming to the final," Aslam said. "But South Africa bowled well in the final, and two or three of our batsmen played some poor shots."

Pakistan had only dropped one match in the tournament, against India, and had to fight tooth and nail in the semi-final to get to the summit clash. Their batting problems from the semi-final resurfaced in the final, with their top order stumbling to South Africa's four-man seam attack.

The team had a huddle before going out to defend 131 and Aslam said the message was to focus on the positives.

"The manager spoke to us and said that there is nothing to be disappointed," Aslam said. "We had played well and he motivated all of us. Today, we could not play that well."

Pakistan struggled against the South African duo of Justin Dill and Corbin Bosch, two bowlers of similar pace, and were floundering at 72 for 7 at one stage. Aslam said their accurate lines and lengths changed the match.

Pakistan's biggest takeaway from the tournament is Imam-ul-Haq, the opening batsman who finished the second highest run-getter in the tournament with 382 runs and forged a formidable opening stand with Aslam.

Pakistan's journey is all the more special considering that they don't get to face bowlers of international quality back home, because many teams have refused to tour the country since 2009. Therefore, their foreign tours assume greater significance than for most teams. In the lead-up, Pakistan had played tournaments in England, UAE and a short home series against Afghanistan and had won all barring the Asia Cup.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    @Zahid Saltin I think you are mistaken my friend Sami Aslam And iman Ul Haq have performed very consistently against strong bowlign attacks too e.g they won 9 consecutive ODI games against Eng Bowliong attack...(Sami,iman,kamran averaged high with couple of centuries each)

  • Android on March 2, 2014, 22:53 GMT

    @munafahmed, but apparently india did not have any luck, but then lack of talent can only take you so far. Anyway, sour grapes. Go vent it somewhere else plz.

  • Dummy4 on March 2, 2014, 5:24 GMT

    Great effort to even reach the finals.

  • Munaf on March 2, 2014, 4:12 GMT

    The Pakistani U-19 team was lucky to have won the SF against England. But I guess you cant be lucky twice in a row so they go the treatment from SA in final. Last world cup a QF exit courtesy India and this year final. Well luck can only take you so far but never get you the cup. Can it?

  • shahid on March 2, 2014, 0:47 GMT

    My team Pakistan were never a worthy finalists as we had a very weak batting. A couple of our performers only performed against minnows and accumulated a lot of runs to show but quality isn't there in Sami, Imam or Kamran. Rest of the batting line was non existant to compare with. I'll say Gohar and Butt were far better than rest in semis and the fnal. If I go by the quality, I think India and South Africa should have been the finalist .

  • shahid on March 2, 2014, 0:41 GMT

    Sami Aslam is wrong. It's not only in the final but all three big matches batting has failed. Imam and Sami may have scored a lot of runs against minnows and a weak SL, but against India, England and South Africa Both the opners and much praised Kamran failed badly. It shows that not a single batsman in the Pakistan Young team has talent enough to perform against quality bowling. Long way to go kids!!

  • Android on March 1, 2014, 22:05 GMT

    the day matters the most. india played bad on the day and lost it.

    about final: good game by SA they bowled extremely well and disciplined effort. very wrll done.

    pak did well to reach to final. but simply were not good enough to beat SA. over all good performance. they reach here from many teams . long way to learn more.

  • M on March 1, 2014, 21:42 GMT

    How were India "unlucky" and Pak "lucky" exactly?? England's fielding was atrocious and they dropped a number of catches in this tournament. They actually gave India countless lifelines, otherwise it would have been an even greater embarassment for Ind in the QF. England also fielded poorly against Pak in the SF but Pak made them pay the price. India failed to deliver in many respects. This is not"bad luck". Pak however exceeded expectations, esp with their batting. They collapsed in the final but it is forgiven. It is about playing well on the day and SA did just that, well done to them.

  • Channan on March 1, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    Congratulation boys! You played the final, made a low score and gave SA hell chasing such a small score. Proud of you all.

  • Naresh on March 1, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    Well done to both teams for getting there. SA for winning. Games are won thru great bowling, something that India lacked to get there.

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