Balbirnie extends Ireland's unbeaten run
ICC Media Release
Fri, Sep 4, 2009 2:26 PM
An excellent all-round performance from skipper Andrew Balbirnie inspired Ireland to a 72-run defeat of Afghanistan at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Toronto.
Balbirnie (102) and Lee Nelson (55) added 123 runs for the opening wicket, mixing some aggressive hitting with some good running between the wickets as Ireland reached 289-7 off 50 overs. Ben Ackland also displayed his batting talent by making 50 not out off 66 balls, with some aggressive hitting from Stuart Poynter (21 not out off eight balls) helping it set an imposing target.
Afghanistan, which had only arrived on Wednesday afternoon after a long flight from Kabul, showed some promise, with Zakiullah Zaki the pick of the bowlers with 2-41.
In reply, Afghanistan got off to a terrible start as it was reduced to 34-3, before some brave resistance from the middle-order helped add respectability to the scorecard.
Among the runs were Asgar Hussain (51), Noor ul Haq (49), Aimal Wafa (45) and Zardi Ali (31), with Balbirnie (3-45) and Graham McDonnell (3-31) starring with the ball for Ireland.
Balbirnie was delighted with his side's performance and its start to the tournament.
"We couldn't ask for a better start," said the Dubliner. "We have had two pretty convincing wins so far and have done well in the batting, bowling and fielding departments. I really couldn't have asked for a better start.
"It was nice to contribute to a win and to score a few runs as well obviously makes me really happy. With a hard new ball and on a good batting wicket we do go and try and play our shots. It was also a quick outfield."
The Irish skipper also paid tribute to Afghanistan's batting line-up which displayed some excellent big hitting, smashing some huge sixes.
"(Having arrived late to the tournament) they must have been very jetlagged, but I thought that they played quite well. Their bowling is good and their batting is very impressive as well. They really hung in there and did very well despite losing some wickets," he said.
Thursday's game involving the USA and Sierra Leone has been awarded to the USA due to Sierra Leone's failure to fulfill the scheduled fixture. USA will be awarded two points for winning the match.
On Friday, Uganda will play Papua New Guinea at Maple Leaf 2, Ireland faces USA at Maple Leaf 3, Hong Kong takes on Afghanistan at Maple Leaf 4 and Canada will play Netherlands at Malton.
The Sierra Leone game against Vanuatu has been abandoned and is subject for rescheduling. For the playing conditions relating to how matches are rescheduled please refer to http://www.icc-cricket.com/events_and_awards/u19/index.php.
At Maple Leaf 1: Ireland 289-7, 50 overs (Andrew Balbirnie 102, Lee Nelson 55, Ben Ackland 50 not out)
Afghanistan 217 all out, 45.1 overs (Asgar Hussain 51, Noor ul Haq 49, Aimal Wafa 45, Zard Ali 31; Graham McDonnell 3-31, Andrew Balbirnie 3-45)
Ireland won by 72 runs