Ireland Under 19s Defeat Afghanistan in World Cup Thriller
Harry Tector led his side to victory over Afghanistan, taking 3 for 37, as Ireland bowled Afghanistan out for 221 to win by 4 runs with just 4 balls remaining.
Nothing will ever match the drama of qualification for this World Cup but this was a dramatic match in its own right.
Inserted to bat after losing the toss, Ireland got off to a difficult start as Mujeeb Zadran bowled 4 maidens in his first 5 overs and removed opener Mark Donegan. A 61 run partnership between Jamie Grassi (32) and Morgan Topping (23) however, had Ireland moving steadily.
Grassi and Topping fell within 8 balls and Sam Murphy followed closely behind to leave Ireland 73/4. Harry Tector (36) and Neil Rock (35) then put on 72 for the 5th wicket to stabilise the innings again.
That was before some late hitting from Josh Little, 27 off 20 balls, and Graham Kennedy, 37 not out off just 24 balls, brought Ireland to a score of 225/8 that would make all the difference in the end.
Throughout the Afghanistan innings, Ireland took wickets at regular intervals and never let the run rate get too far ahead of them. Kennedy and Little took the confidence from their batting into their bowling to take the first 2 wickets and have Afghanistan 47/2.
Varun Chopra took the 3rd wicket, a sharp caught and bowled effort, as all the bowlers except Morgan Topping, only two overs, took at least one wicket. Captain Harry Tector showed the way for his side taking apart the Afghanistan middle order with 3-37 off his 10 overs to leave the opposition 155/6.
At this point Afghanistan were ahead of Ireland’s run rate but wickets were beginning to become an issue. When Jamie Grassi ran out Waqarullah Ishaq for 17, Ireland had Afghanistan 7 down and the momentum was swinging there way.
An eighth wicket with 7 overs remaining and Afghanistan still needing 30 runs had the Irish fans in Whangarei dreaming of victory.
When Josh Little had Mujeeb Zadran caught behind with an over left, Ireland were tantalisingly close, needing just 1 wicket but so too were Afghanistan needing 7 runs off the last over.
Then up stepped Max Neville with the pressure on him to bowl the last over he had Qais Ahmad caught by Graham Kennedy to set off the celebrations.
A great way to round off the group stages for this squad of players, who will look to take this momentum into the Plate competition. Ireland will face the West Indies on Tuesday January 23rd at 10.30am in the Plate Quarter-Final (9.30pm Monday Irish time)
Ireland U19 v Afghanistan U19, ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Group D, Cobham Oval, Whangarei, New Zealand
Ireland Win by 4 runs
Ireland 225/8 (50 Overs) Graham Kennedy 37* Harry Tector 36 Neil Rock 35 Jamie Grassi 32; Qais Ahmad 3-32
Afghanistan 221/10 (49.2/50 Overs) Bahir Shah 34, Tariq Stanikzai 33, Harry Tector 3-37, Josh Little 2-40