"It is all about the hard work that we have put in over the past two years. I can’t thank the coaching enough. When we started this journey, we wanted to play in the final and win the trophy and it is a dream come true. I can’t describe my feelings right now, I am so happy."
Akbar Ali, Bangladesh Captain
Skipper Akbar Ali perhaps best displayed the responsibility which many of the senior members of the national team tend to lack as the youngster kept his calm and guided Bangladesh to a maiden ICC Under-19 World Cup trophy, beating India by three wickets in a rain affected final at Potchefstroom yesterday.
It was an intense, action-packed chase for the young Tigers even though they were able to restrict India to a small total of 177.
At one stage, Bangladesh were struggling on 65 for four and things appeared difficult for the youths, but Akbar stood firm at the other end.
Bangladesh lost wickets at crucial intervals, but Akbar, along with Rakibul Hasan, added a match winning unbeaten 27-run eighth-wicket stand that sparked wild celebrations.
With a captain’s knock of 43 off 77 balls which featured four boundaries and a six, Akbar remained focused and it seemed he was a man on the mission to guide his side over the line. He eventually did so in style, becoming the first captain in Bangladesh to lift an ICC title at any level.
The 18-year-old said afterwards that it was a case of the hard work that the entire team put in eventually paying off.
“It is all about the hard work that we have put in over the past two years. I can’t thank the coaching enough. When we started this journey, we wanted to play in the final and win the trophy and it is a dream come true. I can’t describe my feelings right now, I am so happy,” a jubilant Akbar said during the post-match presentation ceremony yesterday.
The right-hander, who did not have enough opportunities with the bat, saved his best for the biggest of occasions and, according to Akbar, tried to keep things simple and be the finisher for the side.
The youngster also did not forget to praise the hordes of Bangladeshi fans, even outnumbering Indian fans, and said that they played the role of twelfth man to perfection.
There was a heated moment between the teams after the game, but a rather mature Akbar took the responsibility on his shoulders and even issued an apology on behalf of his team.
“I don’t know what happened after the game, but I think these things should not happen in any form of cricket. I apologise on behalf of my team,” he concluded.