Afghanistan spinner Shafiqullah Ghafari’s lethal spell of 6/15 helped his team to register a comprehensive 7-wickets victory over host’s South Africa in the opening match of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup.
South Africa had a bad start from the begining, losing two early wickets to Fazal Haq, before a 53-runs partnership for the 3rd wicket between Bryce Parsons (40) and Luke Beaufort (25) steadied the innings for a while. But after Noor Ahmad and Ghafari started to bowl in tandem, the last 8 wickets fell for only 67 runs. Gerald Coetzee’s late hitting provided the bowlers to have a total beyond 100 to bowl at.
Ghafari’s bowling figures were the 7th-best ever recorded in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup history, and was adjudeged the man-of-the-match for his performance. Ghafari’s spell coupled with the support of other bowlers had South Africa bowled out for paltry 129, before Imran Mir (57) and Ibrahim Zadran (52) struck impressive half-centuries to guide their team to victory.
The 80-runs partnership between the two after the early loss of captain Farhan Zakhil was more than enough for Afghanistan to close out any kind of challenge from South Africa bowlers and although they both got out in quick succession after the team crossed the 100+ mark, it was never going to be enough to defend a low total of 129 for the junior proteas.
The 2nd day of action will see tournament debutants Japan take on New Zealand in Group A, while Group B’s opener will see former champions Australia and West Indies in Kimberley. Bangladesh and Zimbabwe will face each other in the Group C curtain-raiser while Group D’s remaining nations, UAE and Canada, will face each other in Bloemfontein.
South Africa U19 129 all out in 29.1 overs (Bryce Parsons 40, Gerald Coetzee 38, Luke Beaufort 25, Shafiqullah Ghafari 6/15, Fazal Haq 2/43, Noor Ahmad 2/44) lost to Afghanistan U19 130/3 in 25 overs (Imran Mir 57, Ibrahim Zadran 52, Achille Cloete 2/20, Tiaan van Vuuren 1/14) by 7 wickets