Paul Stirling's century lit up the opening day of the ICC Under-19 World Cup Qualifiers in King City, as his team Ireland beat Netherlands comprehensively by 75 runs. Ireland, who were sent in to bat at the Maple leaf South-West Ground, posted a competitive 254. Stirling walked in in the seventh over and took control of the innings till the 48th, when he was dismissed for 102 by Tim Gruitjers. He was helped along the way by James Shannon, who made a breezy 50 off 41 balls. The pair added a brisk 96 for the fourth wicket, scoring at more than seven and a half per over. Netherlands stumbled to 13 for 4 in their reply and never really recovered from seamer Shane Gatkate's early strikes. Philip van den Brandeler resisted with 85 but it was a lone effort as his side managed to bat out 50 overs to end on 179 for 8.
"I am just happy we got the win to be honest. It was hard early on but we managed to keep wickets in hand and make a big score. We thought 250 was well above par," Stirling said. "Our aim is to just keep winning and make the qualifier. One of our ambitions is to come here and win the tournament and send a message to the Test teams that when we qualify we are going to be up for the event."
Raymond Haoda's five-wicket haul set up Papua New Guinea's easy four-wicket win against Hong Kong at the South-East Ground. His opening spell reduced Hong Kong to 3 for 2 and overall it was a sorry effort by the batsmen, as only two managed to touch double figures. Irfan Ahmed's counter-attacking 88, which featured 11 fours and two sixes, helped Hong Kong bat 50 overs. Waqas Barkat supported him with 31 to push the score to 160. Tony Ura guided the chase with 65 and although they lost six wickets, they were in no danger of losing.
"I expected to do well for my team. I am hoping that we will do well in this event and win the tournament as we have a very good side and we have good batting and bowling," said Haoda, who took 5 for 24. "I would like to qualify for the World Cup so I can play against the best teams in the world and make my team-mates proud."
Ryan Corns' all-round effort helped USA prevail in a low-scoring encounter against Vanuatu at the North-East Ground. Corns top scored with 45 as USA were bowled out for 168. Legspinner Simpson Obed did the damage with 4 for 29. Vanuatu proceeded to 76 for 3 before a batting collapse cost them the game. Yash Shah, the left-arm spinner, took two wickets and effected a run-out as USA plucked three wickets for ten runs. After Lazaro Carlot fell for 50, the lower order crumbled to Corns, who finished with 3 for 7 in four overs.
The USA captain Shiva Vashishat was satisfied with the way his team pulled through. "It was a tight game but we managed to make it look pretty comfortable in the end," he said. "One of the motivations for the younger guys is that our CEO (Don Lockerbie) wants us to come and make it through to the senior team and make it a younger USA national side.
The hosts, Canada, didn't have it so easy at Malton. After being shot out for 106 in 42.5 overs, their opponents Uganda couldn't even match that, crashing to 62. Nitesh Kumar top scored for Canada with 40. The chief destroyers for Canada were Hiral Patel (5 for 20) and Arsalan Qadir (4 for 19).
"We think Uganda will be one of the better teams in this event so it was good for us to get a victory," Rustum Bhatti, the Canada captain, said. "The pitch was a bit tough to bat on but I thought 150 or 175 would be a good total. To get 106 was not one of our better performances and we will be working hard in our next game to try and improve this."