Afghanistan, Namibia and PNG sealed the three available slots for next year's ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup to be held in Australia with convincing wins on the final day of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Derry.
Nepal and Scotland had already booked its place in the finals to be held next year. On Tuesday, both the teams ended the tournament with morale-boosting wins.
The only other team to haveBut the most convincing performance of the day was by Afghanistan at the Strabane Cricket Club against Canada. Both sides needed a win to go through to the World Cup. But it was Afghanistan who played brilliantly to bowl out Canada for 71 in 32.2 overs. The Afghanistan bowlers shared the wickets around. In its reply, opener JavedAhmadi made an unbeaten 34 to lead the side to the World Cup.
Ahmadi won the Man of the Match award for his knock and was thrilled at being part of the side that qualified: "I cannot explain the emotions in the dressing room right now. We are all absolutely over the moon. Today's victory belonged to the fielders. They were just brilliant and ran their first two batsmen out. When I batted, it was all very simple, since we did not have much to chase."
The team with an eye on the Afghanistan v Canada match was the USA team which needed to beat Nepal at the Limavady Cricket Club to get through. Nepal batted first and posted a competitive 264 for nine in its 50 overs. The top-scorers for Nepal were NareshBudayair (76: 94b, 5x4, 3x6) and PradeepAiree (57: 57b, 3x4, 3x6). USA needed to win to confirm its berth at the World Cup.
But USA lost two wickets in the first over and the chase went out of control. Steven Taylor held the key to the chase. But once he fell for 52, USA's dreams of qualifying ended.
Budayair's knock fetched him the Man of the Match award: "I had to stay at the wicket and control the innings. I am glad, I was able to do that today. It all went well for us. I thought we had enough on the board. But till Steven Taylor was at the crease, we were a bit wary. Once Steven fell, we were certain of a win.''
Namibia had one eye on the Nepal v USA encounter when it took on Kenya at the Drummond Cricket Club. The side had to win by a big margin to strengthen its claims for qualification. Skipper Stephen Baard led from the front to help his side qualify. Baard made 89 off 93 balls with three boundaries. His knock helped Namibia post an impressive 314 for five in its 50 overs. Kenya's chase revolved around Duncan Allan (34). But once Allan fell, the chase was not on and Kenya ended at 205 for eight in its 50 overs. Baard picked up two for 34 to star with an all-round performance.
Baard was thrilled to lead his side from the front to the finals and also to win the Man of the Match award: "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. I cannot explain the feelings right now as we celebrate the qualification."
Hosts Ireland sealed its berth in the World Cup on Monday. But Ireland's opponents on the final day of the tournament, PNG needed a win to get through. At the Eglinton Cricket Club, Ireland batted first and was bowled out for 155. PNG chased down the target quite easily in the 30th over with five wickets to spare.
Wicketkeeper-batsmanDogodoBau was voted Man of the Match for his display behind the stumps. Dogodo pouched five catches in Ireland's innings to win the award: "It feels good to win the award and also to be part of the squad that qualified. I did not expect to win this award. I am very happy. The pitch was good today, but had something in it for our fast bowlers. We have done well to get through."
Scotland ended the tournament with yet another outstanding performance. They played Vanuatu at the Coleraine Cricket Club. Scotland posted 222 for eight in its 50 overs and the total seemed to be just about par thanks to yet another disciplined Vanuatu bowling performance. Vanuatu in reply was bowled out for 92 in 38.5 overs. The key wicket-taker for Scotland was Kyle Smith who picked up five for 17.
Scotland won by 130 runs and also took home the tournament title for winning eight of the nine games in the tournament.
Smith's spell helped him fetch the Man of the Match award. Smith was thrilled to be part of the winning team: "It is an amazing feeling to be part of the winning squad. 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."
For Kenya's Allan the only consolation of the day was being voted the Player of the Tournament for his all-round performances. But Allan said he would have gladly traded this for a berth in the ICC U19 World Cup: "I am disappointed we did not make it. 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."