Scotland finish top, PNG and Namibia qualify
Afghanistan, Namibia and Papua New Guinea won their games on the final day of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Ireland, to book their place in next year's tournament, which will be played in Queensland, Australia. Scotland, Nepal and Ireland, who finished at the top of the points table, had already qualified. These six teams will be joined by the ten Full Members at the World Cup.
Kenya Under-19s' Duncan Allan, who finished the tournament with 455 runs from nine games at 50.55, was named Man of the Tournament. Allan said he was disappointed not to have made it to the World Cup - Kenya, with only two wins, finished ninth on the points table. "It would have been great to be part of the tournament next year. But I learnt a lot this time playing this tournament and I believe am a better player for the experience."
Scotland Under-19s won the qualifying tournament, after crushing bottom-dwellers Vanuatu Under-19s by 130 runs at Lodge Road. It was Scotland's eighth win out of nine games, putting them ahead of Nepal Under-19s by two points. Nepal also qualified, as did hosts Ireland, Namibia, Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan. Ross McLean's half-century helped Scotland get to 222, and then Vanuatu crumbled to 92 all out. Offspinner Kyle Smith took 5 for 17 as none of Vanuatu's batsmen offered any resistance.
The pitch, Smith said after the match, aided his bowling. "The pitch was a bit two-paced. So, all I had to do, was to bowl in the right areas. I am glad the tournament went off well for us, as we had prepared well for it."
Seamer Norman Vanua was PNG's star with the ball; he picked up two early wickets that started a top-order collapse for Ireland, and when the Ireland lower order was fighting to take their team to a defendable total, Vanua came back and removed the last two batsmen. The 38-run eighth-wicket stand between Adam Coughlan and Barry McCarthy that Vanua broke was the highest of Ireland's innings, and they only managed 155. PNG reached the target quickly, but not without losing five wickets. A quickfire 30 from Vagi Oala got the chase off to a rollicking start but the run-rate slowed slightly as wickets fell. PNG were always comfortable though and got home in 29.1 overs.
Wicketkeeper Dogodo Bau, who was at the crease at the end and had claimed five catches when PNG bowled, was the Man of the Match. "It feels good to be part of the squad that qualified [for the World Cup]," he said. "The pitch was good today, but had something in it for our fast bowlers. We have done well to get through."
Nepal Under-19s stayed in second spot in the points table with a convincing 99-run win against USA Under-19s at the Limavady Cricket Ground. No. 3 batsman Naresh Budayair's 76 set up the base for Nepal, as they recovered well from 78 for 4. Budayair was ably assisted in the recovery by Pradeep Airee, who scored 57. Krishna Karki then blasted four sixes in his 45 off 17 balls to lift Nepal from 214 for 6 in the 47th over to 264 for 9. USA's chase ran into early strife as Avinash Karn and Krishna Karki reduced them to 15 for 3 in no time. Steven Taylor hit a quick half-century, but USA kept losing steam thanks to Rahul Vishwakarma's four-wicket haul, and they were bowled out for 165 in the 45th over.
Man-of-the-Match Budayair who had top scored with 76 said once Nepal got Taylor, they were confident of winning. "I thought we had enough on the board. But while Steven Taylor was at the crease, we were a bit wary. Once he fell, we were certain of a win."
Afghanistan Under-19s routed Canada Under-19s by eight wickets in a one-sided encounter at New Strabane Park which secured their qualification in fifth place. No Canada batsman managed to score more than 13 as they were skittled out for 71 by an all-round bowling effort from Afghanistan. Sayed Shirzad, Yamin Ahmadzai and Abdul Naseri picked up two wickets each to leave their batsmen facing an easy chase. Javed Ahmadi and Hashmatullah Shaidi did the needful, racing home in 15 overs despite the loss of two cheap wickets.
Ahmadi's positive, unbeaten knock of 34 from 25 won him the Man-of-the-Match award. He said the win came courtesy his sides' high quality fielding. "Today's victory belonged to the fielders. They were just brilliant and ran two batsmen out. When I batted, it was all very simple, since we did not have much to chase."
Kenya Under-19s dismal run in the tournament continued as they lost to Namibia Under-19s by 109 runs at the Drummond Cricket Club. The foundation for Namibia's total of 314 was laid by captain Stephen Baard's 89 and Merwe Erasmus' 51, while the final surge was provided by Gert Lotter's 35 off 18 balls and Christopher Coombe's 31 off 17 balls. Lotter and Coombe took 64 runs off the last five overs to ensure Namibia reached the highest total of the tournament so far. Kenya never really went for the total in reply. At the end of 20 overs, though they had only lost two wickets, their run-rate was 2.70, and though they batted out the 50 overs, and Joseph Ochieng got a half-century they ended up losing by a big margin.
Man of the Match Stephen Baard said the pitch suited the batsmen. "I had to lead the way for the side. We had to win and win big. It was an easy paced track. The batsmen had it easy during the day. We knew if we posted a huge score, it will become easier to qualify."