Hosts Ireland, Afghanistan, Canada, Scotland and PNG registered wins on the fifth day of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Derry.

Captain Gregory Sewdial topscored with 31 for USA. (Photo by Shiek Mohamed)

The first day of action in Derry, produced the same kind of thrilling encounters as during the Dublin leg and opened up the points table even further.

Scotland had it easy against the USA at Eglinton. USA, batting first, was bowled out for a mere 124 in 35.2 overs. The off-spinning duo of Kyle Smith (4-21) and Ross McLean (3-9) spun a web around USA. In the chase Freddie Coleman (60 n.o.: 74b, 7×4, 1×6) along with Peter Ross (40 n.o.) helped Scotland tide over the loss of two early wickets as it reached the target in just 28.2 overs.

Man of the Match Smith was delighted that his plan worked out well on the day: “The conditions and the pitch was similar to the ones we had in Dublin. We knew that they had a few hard hitting batsmen, especially Steven Taylor. We luckily got them to make mistakes. Today was our best all-round performance in the tournament. We are getting into the groove now.”

As the skies stayed clear, there was plenty of action as Afghanistan played Namibia at Limavady Cricket Club. Namibia batted first and posted a modest 208 for nine. Afghanistan stumbled in the chase slipping to 137 for seven and then to 162 for eight. It required Nasir Ahmadzai’s calm approach at number seven during his knock (64 n.o.: 75b, 7×4) to guide Afghanistan home with one ball and one wicket to spare.

A relieved Ahmadzai rightly won Man of the Match award for his knock: “I was always confident of reaching the target. I just kept telling the new batsmen to give me support. We just had to knock a few singles around to get to the target. I was in a similar situation few months ago, but then I got out early. But this time I managed to keep my cool and reach the target.’’

At Bready Cricket Club, Nepal was bowled out by Canada for 106 in 42.5 overs with only wicketkeeper Pradeep Airee making 22. But Nepal’s bowlers made Canada earn every run in the chase as wickets at regular intervals. Kyle Edghill made an unbeaten 52 off 133 balls with three boundaries to guide Canada home with 10 balls to spare.

Edghill’s effort earned him the Man of the Match award. Edghill praised Nepal’s bowlers for making things difficult in the chase: “I had to take my time to steady the innings. All the credit to the Nepal bowlers for keeping it tight. We had to work hard to get those runs. My plan was to just stay there and bat as long as possible without losing concentration. This win does a lot to boost the morale of the side and we can now take it to the next game as well.’’

PNG continued to impress in the tournament, this time at the New Strabane Park with an impressive 66-run win over Kenya. PNG batted first, but lost wickets regularly to slip to 137 for nine. Number nine batsman Toua Tom (82 n.o.: 86b, 4×4, 4×6) added 67 runs off 65 balls for the last wicket with Alei Nao to help PNG end at 204 for nine in 50 overs.

PNG captain Christopher Kent (3-24) and Norman Vanua (3-20) picked up wickets at regular intervals to deny Kenya any chance to build momentum. Kenya was eventually bowled out for 138 in 36.3 overs.

Tom’s fine rearguard action fetched him the Man of the Match award. Tom was justifiably delighted with his effort: “We took the conscious decision of batting first. The conditions were different from the one in Dublin. We had a fast outfield. But we always believed that the score was defendable. The entire team was ready to defend with all our might.”

After four final over finishes in Dublin, hosts Ireland finally managed a win in a more convincing fashion. At Coleraine, Ireland openers set a rollicking pace for the side against Vanuatu. The momentum was carried forward by a brilliant 137-run stand for the third wicket between skipper George Dockrell (69: 70b, 12×4) and Andy McBrine who remained unbeaten (107 n.o.: 104b, 12×4). Ireland lost a few wickets in the slog overs but still ended at 313 for nine in its 50 overs as Vanuatu made an attempt to edge back into the contest.

At 16, Nalin Nipiko, is one of the rising stars for Vanuatu. Nipiko (62: 95b, 4×4, 2×6) made a valiant attempt to bring Vanuatu’s chase on track. Vanuatu finally ended at 148 for nine in its quota of 50 overs. But it is Nipiko’s effort with the bat which will definitely make the side positive about the rest of the tournament.

McBrine’s hundred earned him the Man of the Match award. But the young batsman credited his teammates for the win: “The pitch was pretty good. The openers got us off to a good start. Then George (Dockrell) and I had a big partnership. We may have a lost few wickets, but we still got a big score. Maybe we could have scored a few more. We were always in control of Vanuatu’s chase. This win will do wonders for the squad. We finally won comfortably. This will send out a strong message to the rest of the field.”

Tomorrow is a rest day in the tournament. But when action resumes on Friday, Afghanistan plays Scotland at Strabane, Kenya takes on USA at Bready, PNG and Vanuatu play each other at Bready 2, hosts Ireland take on Canada at Limavady and Namibia plays Nepal at Drummond.

Score summaries (Day Five):
At Eglinton Cricket Club:
USA U19 124 all out, 35.3 overs (Sewdial 31, Taylor 24, Joshi 23; Smith 4-21, McLean 3-9)
Scotland U19 125 for two, 28.2 overs (Coleman 60 n.o., Ross 40 n.o.; Patel 2-31)
Scotland U19 won by eight wickets

At Limavady Cricket Club: Namibia U19 208 for nine, 50 overs (van Vuuren 43, Erasmus 52; Ahmadi 4-35)
Afghanistan U19 211 for nine, 49.5 overs (N Ahmadzai 64 n.o., Shaidi 33; SJ Baard 3-52, Groenewald 2-38)
Afghanistan U19 won by one wicket

At Bready Cricket Club: Nepal U19 106 all out, 42.5 overs (Airee 22; Manoosingh 3-17, Juvarajan 3-16, Kumar 2-2)
Canada U19 107 for seven, 48.2 overs (Edghill 52 n.o.; B Karki 2-10, Pun 2-16)
Canada U19 won by three wickets

At New Strabane Park: PNG U19 204 for nine, 50 overs (Tom 82 n.o.; Ndandason 3-29, Angila 3-44)
Kenya U19 138 all out, 36.3 overs (Allan 31, Hirani 28; Kent 3-24, Vanua 3-20, Haoda 2-25)
PNG U19 won by 66 runs

At Coleraine: Ireland U19 313 for nine, 50 overs (McBrine 107, Dockrell 69; Matautaava 2-45)
Vanuatu U19 148 for nine, 50 overs (Nipiko 62; Dockrell 2-16, Getkate 2-9, McCarter 2-21, McBrine 2-37)
Ireland U19 won by 165 runs