By Oluwaseun Ajidagba
Ghana Cricket National Team defeated Nigeria by 7 wickets at the Tafawa Balewa Cricket Oval to lift the Africa Cricket Association T20 Africa Cup North West Africa Regional Qualifiers.
Both teams who recently secured qualification at the just concluded International Cricket Council World T2O Africa ‘A’ Qualifier put up a spectacular display but it was the Ghanaians who showed supremacy over Nigeria by beating them 4 times in a record breaking achievement.
Captain Isaac Aboagye’s decision to field first after winning the toss was again another positive decision that swung in his favor in winning the title.
Super bowling from pace bowler David Ankrah (3 wickets, 18 runs, 1 maiden, 4 overs), Micheal Aboagye (2 wickets, 18 runs, 4 overs) and Koffi Bagabena (2 wickets, 37 runs, 4 overs) in the first innings from Ghanaian players ensured Nigerian batsmen did not have joy at the batting crease aside from Vice Captain, Ademola Onikoyi who emerged as the best batsman with his 29 runs off 30 balls which included 2 fours and 2 sixes, Sulaimon Runsewe dropped 13 runs while the duo of Bimbo Adu and Seye Olympio both adding 11 runs to finish on 109 runs for 8 wickets in 20 overs.
The score looked difficult to defend for Captain Chimezie Onwuzulike going by the classy batting performances the Ghanaians have put up all through the tournament and it once again came to the fore during the final on Sunday, April 28, 2018.
Despite the Okpe brothers grabbing the wickets of Horlali Julius Mensah, James Vifah and Rexford Bakum that did not deter Ghana from lifting the title with 25 balls to spare. Awe Awiah led the line with his bat by scoring 33 runs off 35 balls, Simon Ateak 27 runs off 27 balls with 4 fours and Horlali Julius Mensah contributed 10 runs in 110 runs for loss of 3 wickets in 16.2 overs.
During the closing ceremony speech President, Nigerian Cricket Federation, Professor Yahaya Ukwenya thanked African Cricket Association for handing the country the hosting rights. Professor Ukwenya also had kind words for the sponsors, participating teams, grounds men and board members of Nigeria Cricket Federation for putting up a tournament that for many years people would appreciate.
In the same vein Chairperson of Africa Cricket Association, Mrs Jackie Jan Mohammed expressed her delight with the Nigeria Cricket Federation who within a short time put up a spectacular tournament. She went further to appreciate the hospitality provided by Nigeria as well as congratulate all the participating 5 teams (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Cameroon) for their sportsmanlike conduct throughout the one week tournament but special congratulations to Ghana (Champions) and Nigeria who both qualified for a 2019 qualifiers.
The ACA Chairperson however hoped that in no distance future the likes of Ghana, Nigeria who are Associate Countries can start rubbing shoulders with top teams such as India, Australia, Pakistan, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka etc.
The Immediate Past President of ACA and Tournament Director, Mr Kwesi Sagoe, expressed happiness at the level of cricket demonstrated by all the participating teams but special mention went to Ghana who completed a double over Nigeria and also played out the tournament unbeaten.
The former President of Nigeria Cricket Federation did not fail to also thank the local organizing committee, grounds men, caterers, umpires, scorers, medicals, spectators, media and security for the making his job easy.
After the exciting competition deserving cricketers won different awards and they include:
Based Behaved Player went to the Captain of Gambian Cricket National Team, Mbye Dumbuya.
David Ankrah of Ghana won both Fielder of the Series (five catches) and Player of the Tournament (55 runs, 11 wickets and 5 catches).
Bowler of the Tournament was won by Left arm bowler Chibuike Iteogu of Nigeria, who had 13 wickets in total with a record of 5 balls and 7 wickets in total against Sierra Leone.
Best Batsman of the Tournament had Ghanaian Middle-Order Batsman Simon Ateak claiming the gong with a total of 180 runs.
Present at the closing ceremony include: President, Ghana Cricket Association and Vice Chairman, Africa Cricket Association, Professor William Kwabena Ampofo, President of Sierra Leone Cricket Federation, Mr. Beresford Bournes-Coker, President, Gambia Cricket Association, Mr. Johnny Gomez, Vice Chairman of Local Organizing Committee and Chairman, Lagos Cricket Association, Mr Koffi Sagoe.