Afghans, Irish keep World Cup dream alive

CHRISTCHURCH: After two big losses, Afghanistan put their names in the right column on the points table with an eight-wicket win over Hong Kong in Christchurch here on Tuesday.

Noor-ul-Haq’s decision to field was vindicated by his bowlers, in particular five-wicket hero Zakiullah Zaki, and a target of 138 was knocked off with ease thanks to Javed Ahmadi’s unbeaten 90. With their third straight loss, Hong Kong have been knocked out of the tournament.

Afghanistan’s new-ball bowlers, Aftab Alam and Yamin Ahmadzai, set the stage for Zaki’s success. They each struck to jolt Hong Kong early, and when Zaki a slow left-arm spinner, struck for the first time in the 22nd over, Hong Kong were 87 for 4. Noor-ul-Haq turned his arm over and began by sending back the top scorer Ashish Gadhia for 46, after which Zaki mesmerised the middle order. From 117 for 5, Hong Kong crashed to 137 in 35.1 overs, with Zaki netting 5 for 34.

At other venues, USA became the second team to crash out of the tournament, with a superb century from Paul Stirling leading Ireland to victory in Queenstown.

Fifties to Steven Taylor and Saqib Saleem had put USA on track for a more substantial total than their eventual 217, but a collapse triggered by a return spell from new-ball bowler Craig Young and Lee Nelson’s part-time offspin had them folding in 48.1 overs.

Young’s dismissal of Andy Mohammad had not deterred USA, who through Taylor (57) and Greg Sewdial (30) were making good progress.

New Zealand eased to their second win by seven wickets over Zimbabwe in Lincoln. Their bowlers, in spite of conceding 28 extras, did well to dismiss Zimbabwe for 135 in 42.2 overs and a century opening stand deflated the opposition further as the hosts cantered home.

West Indies won their second in a row and knocked out Papua New Guinea with a five-wicket win in Palmerston North. Having opted to field, West Indies did well to set themselves a target of 188 and chased that down with two sizeable hands proving key.

Hosts secured a quarter-final spot in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.

They will join defending champions India, England, Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka, who have clinched places in the quarter-finals to be played over the weekend.

In group D, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies are vying for the two remaining qualifying spots.

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