Namibia
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Namibia close in on world cup spot

They were made to work for it, but Namibia have now almost certainly confirmed their place in the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka next year, with another victory in the Africa Qualifier in Tanzania on Thursday.

Kenya kept their end of the deal by defeating Uganda in Friday’s only fixture, to ensure that Namibia still have some sort of pressure going into their final fixture.

The Namibians had initially stumbled, but they then recovered to defeat Sierra Leone by 83 runs, which puts them almost out of reach from Kenya. Batting first, Namibia were reduced to 73 for seven inside 20 overs, as George and Ibrahim Sesay shared six wickets evenly.

Getting the slow bowlers away was proving very difficult for the middle-order, but skipper Alexander Busing-Volschenk (23 from 59 balls) showed a calm head, before Jack Brassell’s 41 not out took them to a far more comfortable total of 170 all out in 48 overs. Bowlers Brassell and Blignaut combined to put on 52 for the final wicket that took the game away from the West Africans.

Junior Kariata then continued his fine form with the new ball, picking up four for 16 in a six-over burst that settled the contest. Sierra Leone were not allowed to build any momentum, eventually bowled out for 87. While it was not a polished performance, Namibia will take pride in the manner in which their lower-order embraced the responsibility to build a competitive total.

With one more game to play, only a slim mathematical equation stands between Namibia and a trip to Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Nigeria finally turned their tough week around, as they outlasted the hosts Tanzania at the Gymkhana Ground. The prospects didn’t look good when the home side reduced Nigeria to 28 for four by the 20th over with great fielding and superb spin bowling. Augustine Mwamele was outstanding, returning figures of four for 28.

But middle-order man Solomon Chilemanya rewrote the script and belted three boundaries in a well-paced 66 not out from 80 balls. It was a game-changing knock and lifted Nigerian spirits – as well as their total to 149 all out.

Mwamele then tried in vain to keep Tanzania in the hunt with the bat, but his 25 at the bottom of the order came too late. The damage had been done upfront, despite some ordinary fielding from Nigeria. Chijioke Okeke (three for 23) and Joshua Asia (two for 17) completed their ten over spells and put the strangle on the scoring rate.

As the pressure mounted, Tanzania fell away to eventually be bowled out for 112. The 37-run victory was a great source of relief for Nigeria, after a week they would rather forget.

Friday’s only fixture saw Kenya meeting their neighbours Uganda in a game they simply had to win to retain any chance of a miracle qualification.

Darsh Panchani’s patient 40 from 109 balls was the glue in a gritty Kenyan innings of 79 all out, in a game that was reduced to 46 overs a side due to morning showers. Ugandas’ Joseph Baguma took three for 15 upfront, while Fahad Mutagana picked up three wickets for just seven runs to close out the innings with the ball.

But that performance was nothing compared to Kenya’s Aarnav Patels’ magnificent haul of six for 15 in ten exemplary overs. Uganda couldn’t live with his accuracy and discipline, as well as the pressure created at the other end by Vishil Patel. They eventually wilted to 55 all out, to lose out by 23 runs on the Duckworth Lewis Stern method.

Hitendra Sanghani closed off the match in style with two wickets in a row, as Kenya bounced back and played with character and pride.

As the tournament winds down, there is still added importance to the remaining fixtures. The bottom three teams will be relegated to Africa’s second division in 2024.

Uganda and Kenya are both in action for a final time in Dar Es Salaam today as they take on Sierra Leone and Nigeria respectively.