The New Zealand Under-19 Cricket Team have advanced through to the Super League stage of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup with a hard fought eight run win over Afghanistan.
New Zealand played their second pool match of the tournament at Kev Hackney Oval on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. The win guarantees them a top two finish in Group B and ensures they progress to the next stage of the competition.
Afghanistan had been tipped as a team which could cause an upset and showed in the warm-ups and today’s match that they are continuing to develop.
Having won the toss and opted to bat, New Zealand battled after a rough start to finish 198 all out in the first innings. In reply Afghanistan finished their 50 overs at 190 for nine.
New Zealand lost three quick wickets early on and were 20 for three after 7.3 overs. A fourth wicket partnership of 108 between Robert O’Donnell and Henry Walsh took their side to 128 for three, until Walsh was dismissed for 52 in the 37th over.
O’Donnell made it consecutive half centuries in the opening two games and went on to make 69 from 102 deliveries. Cameos from Cameron Fletcher (17) and Jacob Duffy (15) took New Zealand to 198 all out, with Duffy the last batsmen to go on the final ball of the innings.
In reply Afghanistan lost wickets cheaply and after 9.3 overs were 26 for five. Number seven Najibullah made 69 from 91 balls and had his side needing 60 runs from 63 deliveries for victory.
Duffy had Najibullah caught in the 40th over, before later ending a 39 run eighth wicket partnership between Afsar Khann and Mohammad Yamin.
With one over remaining Afghanistan required 17 to win, but a late strike by Matthew Quinn to remove Khann made sure of a positive outcome for New Zealand.
At the end of 50 overs Afghanistan had come within nine runs of victory, with one wicket in hand.
Strike bowlers Duffy (4-40) and Quinn (4-26) were both economical and took wickets late on in the innings. Arnie Yugaraja finished with figures of one for 17 off seven overs.
New Zealand will now face Pakistan on Thursday and will need to beat them to finish top of their group.