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Aiden Markram captain South Africa Under-19 team to the 2014 World Cup glory. Picture: GORDON ARONS/GALLO IMAGES
Aiden Markram captain South Africa Under-19 team to the 2014 World Cup glory. Picture: GORDON ARONS/GALLO IMAGES

Proteas top-order batter Aiden Markram knows a thing or two about winning the Cricket World Cup.

In 2014, the wide-eyed Markram led a talented SA Under-19 side to their maiden and only ICC U-19 World Cup glory after they defeated Pakistan in the final played in Dubai.

Seven years on, the 26-year-old Markram is back on the biggest stage with the Proteas for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, and he is expecting pressure.

The other players in the Proteas squad to have won the junior World Cup in 2014 are front-line fast bowler Kagiso Rabada and all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo, who is a travelling standby player.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is obviously the fact that the pressure is a lot more at the senior World Cup,” said Markram as the Proteas prepared to open the tournament with a mouth-watering clash against Australia.

Markram, who was named player of the tournament in 2014, said the players must be able to perform under constant pressure to deliver results.

“Every World Cup is always a high-pressure environment and ultimately under that pressure you need to perform as individuals to help the team to win matches, but also to put performances together as a team.

“At under-19 level there isn’t too much of that — there wasn’t too much media exposure and a lot less pressure to bring the trophy back home. You experience the same type of things, but it is a little exaggerated at the senior World Cup, whether it is in T20 or 50 overs.”

After the World Cup, the Proteas have a busy summer against the Netherlands, India and Bangladesh in SA, and Markram has welcomed the return of spectators to stadiums.

“I was not even aware of that, but I saw over the past few weeks that there have been talks of this happening, and that’s good news. For the players, it’s always exciting playing in front of crowds and our supporters at home are always in our corner, and they really love the game of cricket.

“It’ll really be nice to have them back in the stadium during the summer. It won’t be full capacity but it’s better than nothing and it’s a win-win for everyone. We love performing in front of them and they will have an enjoyable time watching us perform.”