Nigeria’s U-19 cricket team’s stunning run in the ICC U19 World Cup qualification, Africa Division 2, was halted by Kenya when Nigeria fell by 11 runs in the championship playoffs last Saturday in Abuja.
Winners of Division 2, Kenya, Nigeria, and Malawi, will join Namibia, Tanzania, and Uganda in Division 1 in 2023 to complete the final qualification road.
Kenya won the toss and decided to bat first in the championship game at MKO Abiola Stadium. The talented Nigerian bowlers held the East African cricket superpower to 90 runs “all out.”
Joshua Asia and Chijoke Okeke of Nigeria each made 4 dismissals for their nation. Prosper Useni, former Man of the Match winner in the series took out Kenya’s danger man, Darsh Panchani who scored 210 runs against Malawi in the first Group A match.
Coach Daniel Gim of Nigeria had assured that his boys will be going into the final with “a winning momentum”.
“We are not afraid of the guy who played double century,
(Panchani who scored 210 alone), he can go out in a duck if the Nigerian bowlers stay disciplined.” Dim spoke with confidence before the final. Indeed, Nigeria reduced the Kenyan dreaded batter to playing a ‘duck’- a cricket batter dismissed without scoring any ‘run’ in the batting inning.
Nigeria’s U19 had approached the second inning with excitement as high-scoring Kenyans were reduced to a paltry 90 runs, an easy target for Nigeria to win the game was 91 runs.
However, the Kenyans who parade all-Asian-born bowlers surprised the West African giant with superior bowling tactics.
Kenya’s Aaranv Patel demolished 5 of Nigeria’s wickets while Vishal Patel dismissed 3 wickets. The most annoying wicket loss for Nigeria was Prosper Useni’s ‘run out’ by Kenya’s Vatsal when Nigeria had the desirous victory in one hand. At the 20th over, Nigeria had a huge winning chance, required to play only 13 runs from 180!
Nigeria’s total score was a meager 79 runs ‘all out in 20.4 overs. Nevertheless, the country made her mark by having a higher Runs Rate of 3.82 against Kenya’s 2.57.
The Nigeria boys “kept to the plan” according to captain, Ridwan Kareem. “The Coaches and Team Manager ensured our supplies were in place for victory. We were with a winning mindset.” Captain Kareem said.
In a summary, Nigeria’s U19 Men’s performance at the ICC Africa Division 2 was admirable and the team has improved its game to repeat the 2019 qualifications come 2023.
Nigeria qualified for Division 1, the last of the cricket pathway qualifiers immediately after the victory against Sierra Leone in the semifinals. Their resolve to pick Africa’s last ticket to ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup is still available.