ICC Under-19 World Cup Qualifiers, 6th day September 7, 2009

Afghanistan bloody USA's noses

Cricinfo staff

In a match watched with more than passing interest because of events on the global political map, Afghanistan scored a convincing 36-run victory over USA at the Maple Leaf North-East Ground, a win which also meant they leapfrogged them into second place. Opting to bat, Afghanistan were given a solid start by Iqbal Maliki who scored 72 off 102 balls, comprising four fours and a six. A five-wicket haul from Asad Ghous in the middle stages helped USA wrest the advantage, before thirties from wicketkeeper Khoshal Rasuli and Ayan Aminzai lifted Afghanistan to 241.

The tone was set by Abhijit Joshi and Azurdeen Mohammed at the top of the order during USA's chase in an opening stand of 68. Mohammed was unlucky to miss out on a century, but the damage was done by left-arm spinner Aimal Wafa who ran through the middle order to finish with 4 for 36. It was a meek surrender from USA who started the day unbeaten in top spot.

Graham McDonnell starred with the bat for Ireland as they beat Canada by 29 runs in a low-scoring tie at the Malton Cricket Club. McDonnell scored a quick unbeaten 67 to lift Ireland to 193 and George Dockrell and Lee Nelson then shared five wickets between them to propel Ireland to the top of the table.

A slow start after choosing to bat had Ireland struggling at 90 for 5 before McDonnell took charge, hitting five boundaries during his 65-ball stay. Manny Aulakh struck at either ends of the innings to finish with 3 for 41 and give the hosts a decent shot at the target. However, the Canada batsmen also found the going tough, with wickets falling at regular intervals. Opener Hiral Patel's 28 off 53 balls proved to be the highest score of the innings and toothless performances from the other batsmen helped Ireland wrap up the match in the 48th over.

Man of the Match McDonnell said he felt good to pick up the award despite a pretty average performance. "It was a difficult wicket to bat on as the outfield was pretty big and the wicket was turning a lot," he said. "It was hard to score a run-a-ball but a few boundaries helped. Having played in Malaysia at the last World Cup, we know what it is like and how much of a big deal it is to play for your country at that event."

A fluent fifty from Vinoo Tewarie was followed up by some tidy work from the bowlers as Netherlands thrashed Vanuatu by 73 runs at the Maple North-West Ground. Put in by Vanuatu, the highlight of the Netherlands innings was the third-wicket stand of 98 between Tewarie and captain Tim Gruijters. While Tewarie stroked six fours during his 70-ball 52, Gruijters managed four boundaries and two sixes during his near-run-a-ball 44. But it was Paul van Meekeren's fireworks towards the end - a blitzkrieg 31 off 13 balls, including four boundaries and a six - that helped Netherlands finish on 270.

Vanuatu captain Simpson Obed led from the front with 53 after opener Samson Kalworai had provided a steady start during the chase, but the steady fall of wickets helped Netherlands gain ground continuously. Patrick Matautaava, who had starred with the ball, picking up 3 for 32 unleashed a late flurry but three wickets each from Olivier Klaus and Lucas Brouwers ensured Netherlands registered their third win in style.

"We are all very happy and it was a good performance and a good game," said Gruijters. "We think we can qualify for the World Cup as all the batsman in the top six have shown they can bat properly and score runs. We are feeling very confident. Paul's innings was very important as it really shifted the momentum of the game. He hit the ball cleanly and it made a really big difference to us."

Hong Kong inched their way up the lower confines of the points table with a five-run win against Uganda at the Maple Leaf South-East Ground. Ashish Gadhia (27) and Vikash Gope (26) were the lone stars for Hong Kong in a disappointing performance after they chose to bat. Moses Okwera was the pick of the Ugandan bowlers as Hong Kong finished on a below-par 189 for 9.

A 69-run third-wicket stand between Henry Ssenyondo (33) and Emmanuel Nakaana (46) looked to have got Uganda on course during the chase, but with their exits, wicketkeeper-captain Ahmed Yakub was left to fight a lone battle. He managed 45 off 49 balls, but could not finish off the match off in style as Hong Kong sealed the tight low-scorer with two overs to spare.

Hong Kong captain Jamie Atkinson was delighted with the win. "We knew how important this game was going to be if we are going to qualify for the World Cup," he said. "It has given us a massive lift for the next three matches we have got. Every match from now is a must-win match for us as if we want to keep ourselves in hunt for the New Zealand tour."

With Sierra Leone ejected from the tournament over visa issues, Papua New Guinea also made an improvement in their rankings with the two points from the walkover.

Teams Mat Won Lost Tied N/R Pts Net RR For Against
Ireland Under-19s 6 5 1 0 0 10 +0.828 1184/250.0 977/250.0
Afghanistan Under-19s 5 4 1 0 0 8 +0.700 770/163.5 800/200.0
Papua New Guinea Under-19s 5 4 1 0 0 8 +0.573 840/190.2 768/200.0
United States of America Under-19s 5 4 1 0 0 8 +0.550 782/200.0 672/200.0
Canada Under-19s 6 4 2 0 0 8 +0.388 960/250.0 863/250.0
Netherlands Under-19s 5 3 2 0 0 6 -0.235 705/200.0 752/200.0
Hong Kong Under-19s 6 2 4 0 0 4 -0.623 845/250.0 932/232.5
Uganda Under-19s 6 2 4 0 0 4 -0.750 738/247.1 934/250.0
Vanuatu Under-19s 5 1 4 0 0 2 -1.348 642/200.0 768/168.3
Sierra Leone Under-19s 9 0 9 0 0 0 0/0.0 0/0.0