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KUALA LUMPUR - India were crowned champions of the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia on Sunday after a thrilling final against South Africa in Kuala Lumpur.
Set a revised target of 116 to win from 25 overs after the second innings was reduced because of rain, South Africa needed 26 runs from the last two overs but despite the best efforts of captain Wayne Parnell and wicketkeeper Bradley Barnes, the junior Proteas fell just 12 runs short.
In truth, India bowled and fielded very well in the closing stages and really starved the South Africa batsmen to the point where they had to take undue risks with shots and running. It was a mature performance by coach Dav Whatmore's boys.
This is India's second U-19 World Cup title and the large crowd that packed into Kinrara Oval was overwhelmingly shouting for the winning side, getting more and more vociferous as the evening progressed.
Dozens of India flags fluttered around the ground in support of the team with the 6 000 or so fans enjoying the festive atmosphere.
In the end they nearly descended into delirium as a smiling Virat Kohli accepted the cup from ICC president Ray Mali and lifted it above his head as the confetti fell from the stormy Kuala Lumpur sky. His side were probably the most consistent in the tournament and with their talent, application and team spirit there can be no doubt the title was fully deserved.
But the runners-up must not be forgotten - South Africa contributed hugely to the success of the tournament and helped to make the final so enthralling.
One of the abiding memories of this event will be the fielding of the South African team. Sybrand Engelbrecht, Rilee Rossouw, Jon-Jon Smuts, wicketkeeper Barnes and others could easily hold their own in the South African senior side from a fielding perspective and must have saved at least 40 or 50 runs in the final.
The brightest star in that particular galaxy is Engelbrecht.
Coach Ray Jennings reckons he is the best fielder of his age in the world and based on his performances in Kuala Lumpur, it would be difficult to argue.
At cover-point, he is this side's version of Jonty Rhodes, stopping anything that comes within about a mile of him and on Sunday he clung on to two more spectacular catches to add to his collection and, more importantly, to dismiss top scorer Tanmay Srivastava and captain Virat Kohli, not to mention the running out of Iqbal Abdullah. - Sapa