United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Namibia secured its places in the final of Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2 as the hosts continued its winning streak by defeating Bermuda and Namibia clinched victory against Hong Kong on the final day of group fixtures.
Meanwhile, Uganda’s one-run loss to Papua New Guinea means the side will now be relegated out of Pepsi ICC WCL Div. 2 alongside Bermuda while promoted sides Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong have managed to maintain places in Pepsi ICC WCL Div. 2.
Hoping to make it to the finals unbeaten, home side UAE won the toss and elected to bat at the Dubai Sports City stadium. Wicket-keeper-batsman Amjad Ali got the hosts off on the right foot, top scoring for the side with 57, hitting seven boundaries along the way. He left the crease after being judged leg-before off the bowling Bermuda’s Rodney Trott.
The next six batsmen did not leave with less than 20 runs each, but none of the top-order sparkled for this side as they have done in previous matches. Saqib Ali made 42, hitting the UAE’s only 6 for the entire innings while the second-wicket partnership between Amjad and Naeem Aslam proved the most fruitful for the side with the duo adding 60 runs before Aslam departed.
Bermuda’s fielders were back on top, with Fiqre Crockwell catching both Shaiman Anwar and Amjad Javed out, while Irving Romaine took the best figures for the team with 4-37 including the key scalps of captain Khurram Khan and Saqib.
In reply, Bermuda’s attempt to chase down the target began well with Dion Stovell opening the batting with Jason Anderson, the pair knocked 35 runs off the target before Anderson departed after being adjudged leg-before off the bowling of Arshad Ali.
Stovell attempted to anchor the innings for the side but the turning point came when captain David Hemp departed for 39, leaving the Bermudians requiring a runner ball for which they never quite managed to muster. Nasir Aziz was the pick of the bowlers to help secure the UAE a home final, with 4-44 while Arshad walked away with match figures of 3-38.
Man of the match Amjad said: “It’s obviously great to go into the final undefeated and now its about beating Namibia tomorrow and taking home the title.
“I was pleased with my performance today as I’ve been batting up and down the order for this tournament when I’m normally an opening batsman, so I’d like to thank the captain and coach for backing me today to open for the side. It’s the first time I’ve kept wicket this event too since Swapnil Patil was rested today and I’m very happy with my contribution of two stumpings.”
Hemp said of relegation out of Pepsi ICC WCL Div. 2: “I’m very disappointed about today’s loss and our relegation out of the tournament but ultimately we just weren’t consistent enough throughout this event to stay in the division.
“We only managed to win one game this tournament and to be out on run-rate is a little upsetting but at the same time we didn’t perform to the standards we know we’re capable of in our cricket.
“We came to Dubai early to prepare, especially as it’s off-season in Bermuda and I honestly felt we were prepared for the tournament but we need to take responsibility for our poor performances here and go back and work on things in Bermuda ahead of the regional qualifiers for the World Twenty20 as well as ahead of the next World Cricket League competition we will participate in.”
In its last group game before the finals, hoping to avoid the relegation position, Hong Kong tried for one more win against Namibia. Winning the toss and electing to bat it’s luck didn’t seem to be changing with Roy Lamsam departing for duck, and top order batsman Courtney Kruger dismissed after a mere 15 runs.
Mark Chapman hoped to turn things around for Hong Kong, but only managed 31 before being bowled out by Louis van der Westhuizen. It was 18-year-old Nizakat Khan who bought Hong Kong’s total up by smashing seven boundaries and three sixes on his way to 95.
Namibia’s wicketkeeper, Ewald Steenkamp continued his success behind the stumps, claiming three catches off Hong Kong batsmen, whilst skipper Craig Williams put a halt to Nizakat Khan’s scoring with the medium-pacer tempting the young batsman into a shot only to clean bowl him. Louis Klazinga’s fast bowling tempted Hong Kong’s batsmen into futile hits, with the 25-year-old claiming his first five-wicket haul of the tournament.
In reply, Namibia’s batting got off to a moderate start, and the dismissal of Williams, the in-form batsman for Namibia was a blow to the side, but the Asian team failed to keep the momentum going after Williams’ departure and Namibia’s superior batting skills saw Gerrie Synman make 59 and Raymond Van Schoor clock up 54 runs and reduce the target further.
Hong Kong’s wicketkeeper Waqas Barkat caught Andries Burger and Williams behind, but it was not enough. Hong Kong’s bowling attack made an unsuccessful attempt to put an end to the Africans scoring, with a determined Namibia smashing its way to 243 in 49 overs, with two wickets still remaining – ending Hong Kong’s yearning for another win prior to the finals. Despite the loss, Hong Kong’s superior run-rate in the tournament means the side maintains its position in Division 2.
Man of the match Louis Klazinga who walked away with a five-wicket haul today said: “It’s obviously great to know we’re in the final against the UAE, a side we know well, in both tactics and players. It will hopefully stand us in good stead when we play them in the final. It’s fantastic to know we’ve secured our place in the division along with funding, but nothing is over till we’ve won the final tomorrow.
“On my personal performance, I just tried to keep things simple, made sure I bowled in the right areas, worked well in the Powerplays and then when it came to batting I just needed to stick it out to give us the win. I think we didn’t perform to the best of our abilities against Hong Kong today and we should have finished things off earlier but that’s something to reflect upon ahead of tomorrow’s final.”
Under overcast skies at the GCA, a PNG side hopeful for a repeat of Tuesday’s success against Hong Kong, elected to bat against Uganda. PNG got off to a rough start, with Christopher Kent’s aims to replicate his previous high score ended promptly by Charles Waiswa’s bowling – with the 19-year-old being dismissed for duck.
It was a day of low individual scores for PNG – with the largest contribution coming from Asad Vala, who made 43. Further down the batting line-up Jason Kila added another 36 to PNG’s score – but Uganda’s fielders gave little opportunity for the runs to flow.
Wicketkeeper Lawrence Sematimba made light work of the PNG batsmen, ending Kent, Morea, and Vare’s time at the crease. The African side’s bowling attack tempted the PNG boys into making poor decisions, with newly appointed captain David Arinaitwe taking 2-19.
With a reasonable score to chase, the second innings saw an optimistic Uganda go into bat, but PNG refused to let go without a fight. Roger Mukasa got the side off to a great start, making 63 with seven boundaries and a six to start the innings. However, despite his best efforts the side began to fall apart, with the second highest total made by Ronald Ssemanda – who finished up 41 not out.
A poor batting line-up ensured PNG retained the upper hand, with the side’s superior bowling skills on display. Strong fielding by captain Rarua Dikana and wicketkeeper Vare translated into a struggling Uganda being unable to break out of PNG’s hold - with the disappointed African side finishing the innings with 185, one run short of the target set by PNG.
Uganda coach Conrad Shukri admitted he was disappointed with relegation, especially after victory being in the side’s hands today against Papua New Guinea.
“It was disappointing today to lose by one run especially when the side really took it to the Papua New Guinea team but in the end it just wasn’t our day.
“Relegation is never a nice thing but if I look at the positives we have a good fielding and bowling side with strong fitness, but at this event we were let down by our batting which couldn’t contend against the superior bowling that we faced as a side.
“It’s time to go back to Uganda and reflect on the loss and relegation before the team rebuilds and hopefully bounces back.”
Tomorrow will see UAE face Namibia in the final at Dubai Sports City Stadium, Papua New Guinea will take on Hong Kong for third/fourth position at GCA 1 while Uganda will play Bermuda for fifth/sixth position at GCA 2.
Score summaries (Day five):
At DSC: UAE 257-9, 50 overs (Amjad 57, Saqib 42; Romaine 4-37)
Bermuda 214 all out, 48.0 overs (Stovell 77; Aziz 4- 44, Arshad 3- 38)
UAE won by 43 runs
At GCA 1: Hong Kong 237 all out, 49.2 overs (Nizakat 95; Klazinga 5-50)
Namibia 243-7, 49.0 overs (Snyman 59, van Schoor 55; Irfan 3- 52)
Namibia won by three wickets
At GCA 2: PNG 186 all out, 49.3 overs (Vala 43, Kila 36; Waiswa 3- 46)
Uganda 185-9, 50 overs (Mukasa 63, Ssemandu 41 not out; Gavera 3-31)
Papua New Guinea won by one run