Nigeria’s U-19 cricket national team, the Junior Yellow Greens, yesterday became the first side from the country to qualify for any cricket World Cup when it beat Tanzania by 35 runs in the second semifinal of the on-going ICC Africa Division Two World Cup qualifier.The feat in Potchefstroom, South Africa gave Nigeria a ticket to the 2020 U-19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.
The team will now play in Division 1 in world cricket, which is the first time Nigeria will ever participate in an event of this magnitude alongside India, England, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and other big names in world Cricket. Vice President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF), Uyi Akpata said the achievement is a cap on the development plans, which the federation has been working on since inception.
According to him; “everybody associated with Cricket in Nigeria is very proud of the achievement of the boys… it was a tortuous journey but they have been very dedicated and disciplined and we look forward to them being the crux of the senior national team in the nearest future.”
Tanzania won the toss and elected to bat, taking early wickets in the innings to put the Nigeria batting side under intense pressure in the 50 overs match. The last two partnerships of the Nigerian batters, Ifeanyi Uboh and Segun Ogundipe boosted their runs by 80 runs to push their total runs in the first innings to 169 runs (all out) in 46.2 overs. Ogundipe scored 62 runs off 68 balls with a strike rate of 91.17 to score the highest runs for his team and also cling Player of The Match award.
In the second innings, Tanzania looked determined targeting 170 runs to win, but were awed by the tenacity of the yellow greens bowling and fielding who stopped them at 134 runs (all out) in 43.2 overs. Gokul Das of Tanzania boosted the runs for his team scoring 61 runs off 104 balls with a strike rate of 58.65 before being caught by Nigeria’s Mohammed Taiwo.
Nigeria’s Peter Aho was on top of his bowling, taking four wickets after bowling his allotted 10 overs, conceding 37 runs. Also, Nigeria’s spinning duo, Sylvester Okpe and Isaac Danladi did the clean up to limit the runs of the Tanzanians, while taking wickets to seal Nigeria’s victory. Okpe (who is also the captain of the team) took two wickets after bowling 10 overs and conceding 20 runs while Danladi took three wickets after bowling the last wicket in his total 4.2 overs, conceding just eight runs. Nigeria will meet Sierra Leone in the final to determine the champion tomorrow.