NEW ZEALAND fast bowler Shane Bond joined Ireland's U-19 World Cup campaign last night, giving the players a pep talk after a convincing victory over Afghanistan in the first of two official warm-up matches.
Speedster Bond would have been impressed by the pacy Craig Young, who took 2-26 to help restrict the Afghans to 221-8 from their 50 overs before an unbeaten Andy Balbirnie century saw Ireland home with seven wickets and five overs to spare.
While Balbirnie's runs were welcome after his knee injury in Sydney, it was Young's performance that caught the eye because Ireland will need to take early wickets if they are to trouble South Africa or Australia in their group matches later this week.
A strongly built young man from Bready, he delivered his 10 overs off the reel, bowling a good line and making his opponents hop around the crease. Both his wickets were given up by batsmen beaten for pace.
Ireland's spinners -- Balbirnie, George Dockrill and Lee Nelson -- kept the score in check through the middle overs but coach Matt Dwyer grimaced at some of the ground fielding and will be working in that area before Friday's opening group match against South Africa.
A target of less that 4.5 runs per over looked a shade more daunting as Clontarf's Adrian D'Arcy fell in the first over of the reply but when captain Balbirnie survived the first of a remarkable seven chances soon after, the momentum swung Ireland's way.
Balbirnie, who plays his club cricket for Pembroke, added 148 for the third wicket with James Shannon and powered on to 108 not out from 139 balls, with nine fours (one of them courtesy of a fourth dropped catch on the boundary).