Reuben Wilson led a dominant all-round bowling display in Bloemfontein yesterday that enabled Ireland to ease to a seven-wicket victory over the USA in their opening match of the U19 World Cup.
The 17-year-old paceman, who has been tipped to follow the footsteps of Josh Little into the Ireland senior team, claimed 3-23, while his YMCA teammate Olly Riley returned 3-21 as the USA were bundled out for 105.
Wilson showed no reaction to the stress fracture of the back that kept him out of action for most of last season as he challenged both edges of the bat and took wickets in each of his three spells.
With Clontarf seamer John McNally also impressing with 2-17 from seven overs, Ireland coach Pete Johnston may just be dreaming of an upset on Monday or Thursday against strong Group A favourites Bangladesh and India.
The feeling that this is the best Ireland U19 side since the Andy Balbirnie and Paul Stirling class of 2010 was strengthened by a competent chase, led by an unbeaten half century from Belfast-born wicketkeeper Ryan Hunter.
Ireland did lose two early wickets but Hunter and Kian Hilton settled nerves with a third-wicket stand of 59 and after the former had completed his fifty from 63 balls, skipper Philip le Roux struck the winning boundary with 27.1 overs to spare.
The victory all but assures Ireland of a place in the Super Sixes that follow the first round , even if they lose their two remaining Group A games.