Dubai: Nigeria’s young side is one victory away from qualifying for the 2020 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, after yet another commanding performance in the African qualifying tournament in Namibia.
They made four victories on the trot, as they hammered Tanzania by 151 runs on Thursday. Olayinka Olaleye made a 110 not out at the top of the order, reaching three figures with a terrific straight six.
His opening partnership with Sulaimon Runsewe was worth 97, and that set Nigeria on their way. Isaac Danladi struck 31 at number three, as Nigeria eventually reached 211 for three.
Tanzania were then put under constant pressure by Nigeria’s pace attack, led by the left-arm Mohameed Taiwo. He settled for 2/20 this time, while Peter Aho returned encouraging figures of 3/7 in eight overs. But, it was captain Sylvester Okpe who really did the damage, his off-spin reaping 4/19, including the match-winning scalp.
If Nigeria manage to defeat Sierra Leone in their final game, they will head for their first ever U19 Cricket World Cup. The one team that could still catch Nigeria are hosts Namibia, who also had a commanding victory, ICC reported.
Namibia again breached 200, as skipper Divan la Cock fell nine short of third Namibian century. His 91, as well as 55 from opener Henry Brink and 50 not out from the in-form Matthew de Gouveia, saw the hosts close on 250 for five.
Uganda were still nursing the after-effects from the capitulation against Nigeria the day before, but they did show some character.
Zephania Arinaitwe blazed a terrific 69 from just 30 balls at the top of the order, to give the hosts something to consider. But, even as he flayed, wickets were falling at the other end, and he could never get anyone to stay with him.
Mell Theunissen and the evergreen Mauritius Ngupita took three scalps apiece, as Namibia closed in and eventually overwhelmed Uganda by 109 runs.
The third game of the day was the real thriller. Kenya and Sierra Leone have had a quieter time of it thus far, but they came to life when they met. Sierra Leone notched an impressive 225 for seven, with George Ngegba leading from the front with 69 from just 58 balls.
There was also a 41 from 13-year-old John Bangura, which proved crucial in the final reckoning. Chernoh Bah scored 32 not out from 15 balls with four sixes, to lift his side beyond 200.
In their chase, Kenya stayed interested for a long time. Dilan Shah’s 74 not out was the backbone of the challenge, but he eventually ran out of partners. Satish Hirani’s 22 looked like it might be the companionship Shah needed, but Hirani was one of Charles Kargbo’s six victims, in an outstanding spell.
He would end with six for 32, claiming the final scalp to confirm a hard-fought victory for his side. Shah was left stranded at the other end, helpless against the carnage, as Sierra Leone prevailed by 31 runs.