Mitchell Marsh, the Australian captain, has singled out his team's self-belief as the factor most responsible for its triumph in the Under-19 World Cup. Australia beat Pakistan by 25 runs in Lincoln to win their third Under-19 World Cup title, successfully defending 207.
"To tell you the truth it feels absolutely amazing; to defend 200 was a great effort from our bowlers with their batting line-up," Marsh said. "To win the World Cup is just an amazing feeling and I'm just so happy for all the boys, and I'm just so happy for them; speechless really."
Pakistan had begun their chase confidently, reaching 69 for 1, but the introduction of left-arm spinner Luke Doran, who took three wickets, swung the game Australia's way. Josh Hazlewood, the Man of the Match, finished with 4 for 30, as Pakistan's middle order failed to measure up to Australia's probing bowling and the increasing required run-rate. Azeem Ghumman, the Pakistan captain, fought hard with 41 but the frequent flow of wickets from the other end left little hope of victory.
"We knew if we took early wickets the pressure would be right back on them, unfortunately we didn't get those early wickets today, but one of the things we had written up on the board in the rooms was belief and we never stopped believing today," Marsh said.
Pakistan opted to bowl at a venue which had traditionally favoured the team chasing. But Marsh said he was happy batting first, especially in a final. "We knew that having runs on the board in these sorts of matches is pivotal and in the end the pressure might have got to the Pakistanis and credit to our bowlers, they bowled beautifully."
With conditions favouring the fast bowlers early on, Sarmad Bhatti and Fayyaz Butt had Australia in trouble, limiting them to 23 for 3. But the middle order stepped up, with important contributions from Jason Floros (35) and Tim Armstrong (37) and a surge from Kane Richardson, who scored a run-a-ball 44, to lift Australia to 207.
"We thought that we could always back ourselves to defend totals and it worked for us and I think instilling that confidence in our batsman to tough it out for those first 15 overs was a key for us."
Marsh singled out Doran for praise, as his three-wicket burst, which included a wicket off his first ball when he trapped Ahmed Shehzad in front, marked a turning point in the game. "He's a very smart person who thinks about his fields and his bowling and it was a great effort from him after missing those first couple of games. For him to come back the way he has is excellent; I couldn't be more happy for him," Marsh said.
Marsh also lauded his team's fielding which, though patchy on occasions, was devoid of any game-changing lapses. "In our first couple of warm-up games I think we were pretty sloppy in the field as a team but that was one of our goals to be one of the best fielding sides and to reach the final and have a good day is just amazing."
There was support for Pakistan right through the tournament while families constituted a significant part of the Australian contingent for the final at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval. Marsh, though, said there had been plenty of support from home. "Our supporters have been fantastic for us and I think in some games they have definitely helped get us over the line with their support and we're very grateful for that," he said. "We've had a lot of messages sent through to us; the Australian cricket team sent us all a letter which was terrific, and we've had a lot of support from back home which is great."
Pakistan captain Azeem Ghumman felt his team should have chased down 208 easily. "Our opening stand was quite good but our middle order didn't click today," Ghumman said. "Everybody scored a bit but no-one was able to take us over the finish line.
"Even though we lost the final, I'm confident that these guys have got great talent and a great future ahead of them. We have learnt a lot from this World Cup, and as a captain I have learnt a lot. Don't forget we are only teenagers."