It took their final match of the U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa for Nigeria’s U19 cricket team to register a first-ever victory at this level but it is an experience they will cherish for a long time.
An 8-wicket win over Japan means the Junior Yellow Greens finished in 15th place out of 16 teams and leave South Africa with their heads held high, having achieved a beautiful climax to what has undoubtedly been a chastening but, nevertheless, hugely valuable learning curve for the debutants.
Nigeria faced Japan at the Ibbies Oval in the final classification match in the Plate Tournament for teams that failed to qualify from their various groups.
It was the last chance for both teams who had lost all their matches up to this point to restore a modicum of pride and exit the tournament on a high.
Japan won the toss and elected to bat first. They gradually built their innings with the obvious target of playing out the 50 overs.
Japan lost their first wicket for only 18 runs in the 5th over and from there lost another wicket in every 5 overs. At the 30th over, Japan had lost 5 wickets for 84 runs and they eventually finished for 115 runs all out in 42 overs.
Ifeanyi Uboh was the star performer with the ball for Nigeria with 5 wickets, conceding 23 runs in 8 overs with an economy of 2.87.
Shu Nogushi scored 31 runs off 66 balls, supported by Marcus Thurgate with 15 runs off 49 balls and Ishaan Fartyal with 16 runs off 43 balls.
The second innings came quickly for Nigeria as the Junior Yellow Greens looked familiar once again.
The opening pair of Suleimon Runsewe and Elijah Olaleye raced to 42 runs for no loss in 7 overs. At the end of 10 overs, Nigeria was 53 for no loss of wicket.
Nigeria lost Olaleye Elijah at 55 runs in the 12th over and a brief spell from Miracle Akhigbe saw Nigeria lose the second wicket at 89 runs.
Nigeria eventually scored 116 runs for the loss of 2 wickets in 22.2 overs to record their first win of the tournament to ensure they stay above Japan in global ranking.
Suleimon Runsewe scored a brilliant 56 runs off 70 balls not out, supported by Elijah Olaleye with 21 runs off 26 balls as the best bating contribution for Nigeria
Ifeanyi Uboh was named player of the match with his 5 wickets haul.
Nigeria won by 8 wickets