Nigeria U19 won the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup Qualifiers against Sierra Leone at a stroll.
The scene was set as the tournament’s two undefeated sides faced off in the ICC U19 CWC Africa Division 2 Qualifiers Final to decide the champions between these two fine young cricketing nations. Something had to give as both sides looked to maintain their perfect record in a bid to claim the trophy on the final day.
Nigeria got off to the perfect start after losing the toss and being sent in to bat. An opening partnership of 148 runs between Samuel Mba (62 off 124 balls, five fours) and Player of the Match Olayinka Olaleye (110 off 124 balls, 6×4, 1×6) proved enough of a platform to help Nigeria post their second-highest tally of the tournament, scoring 242-9 in 50 overs. Once Sierra Leone broke the opening stand, the wickets kept falling regularly as the bowling attack tried to restrict Nigeria to a reachable target.
Sierra Leone’s Haroun Kamara (seven days short of his 14th birthday) had a hand in two run outs and picked up 2-51, to follow up his figures of 3-32 and 4-16 in the previous two matches. Both wickets were stumped by John Bangura, bringing his stumping tally for the tournament to four stranded victims.
The response from Sierra Leone in the second innings was disastrous. Having been so heavily reliant on their bowling attack throughout the competition, the batting order failed to answer the call when they were finally placed under a bit of scrutiny. Captain George Ngegba top scored with 31 runs in a tame second innings response that saw the Sierra Leoneans bowled out for only 105 runs in 31 overs. Peter Aho starred with the ball once again as he picked up another five-wicket haul for Nigeria to help him claim top spot as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 16 wickets in total.
An all-round performance from Nigeria earned them the title and, together with Sierra Leone and Tanzania, they have booked their place alongside Namibia, Kenya and Uganda in the Division 1 qualifiers taking place in 2019 in a bid to qualify for the 2020 ICC U19 CWC in South Africa.
– Report Anitha Madikizela
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images