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Papua New Guinea rolled United States of America over by seven wickets, with 44 overs to spare, in one of the most one-sided games in the tournament at the Hong Kong Cricket Club. PNG won the toss and had USA on the mat immediately, with Hitolo Areni sending Lennox Cush back for a duck. Steve Massiah seemed to be at ease with the conditions, stroking four boundaries in his 18, but things were about to fall apart spectacularly. Carl Wright succumbed against opening bowler Loa Nou, before Areni sent messiah back to reduce USA to 25 for 3. Six of the remaining eight batsmen failed to open their accounts as USA crumbled from a precarious 37 for 4 in bizarre fashion, to be bowled out for 44 in the 21st over. Seamer Rarva Dikana was the main tormentor, finishing with dream figures of 4 for 1 from 4.2 overs. PNG were in a rush to end the game, lashing boundaries and losing wickets, before Christopher Kent hit two sixes to seal PNG's third win in three games.
"We didn't expect to bowl the USA out so cheaply this morning and all credit has to go to our bowlers and the way they performed today," captain Dikana said after the game. "I don't think the USA batsmen played badly, I just think they didn't know how to read our bowlers and our fielding was particularly strong.
"A win is a win for us, but I would have liked it if we hadn't lost those three wickets to make it to the target. However, by losing those three wickets it means those batsmen have something to focus on in our next game - by improving their performances for us. We can't rest on our laurels though, we've another match tomorrow and we've got to focus on our own game and be ready for the next challenge."
Oman authored a major recovery from 63 for 6 to overhaul the target of 241 set by Italy with seven balls to spare at Kowloon Cricket Club. Italy's effort after electing to bat was guided by captain Alessandro Bonora's unbeaten 124, that included ten fours and four sixes. After the early loss of Andy Northcote, Bonora laid the platform in a 84-run second-wicket stand with Damian Fernando, off 22.1 overs. The middle order faltered after Fernando's exit for 46, but Bonora kept firing from one end to lift his side to a strong score.
Oman's chase was initially crippled by Italy's opening bowlers, Vince Pennazza and Gayashan Munasinghe, who ripped open the top order. Oman looked down and out when No. 8 Awal Khan joined Sultan Ahmed in the middle. The pair kick-started a resurgence with a 59-run stand in 11.3 overs. Sultan's exit did not allow Italy to run through the tail, as Amir Ali batted with rare composure for a No. 9 batsman. He added 99 with Awal and took Oman to the brink before Peter Petricola ended Awal's resistance for 81, at 221 for 8. Rajesh Kumar held his nerve to help Amir tie the scores before perishing, in what was the final twist in the riveting match. Amir, however, hit a boundary off the next ball to seal a memorable win for Oman.
"We've lost two games now, both of which were games that we could have won if we had applied ourselves better," a disappointed Bonora said. "We simply did not complete the basics - bowling, fielding and even batting. I may have scored 124 runs for our 240 but it was still not enough on this pitch. We need to regroup ahead of tomorrow's game against Hong Kong. We both have one win each and tomorrow's game is almost like a semi-final as whoever loses falls into the relegation battle."
On the other hand, Oman captain Hemal Mehta was thrilled with the result. "We were definitely the most challenged in this game - Italy didn't let us take wickets easily and credit has to go to Bonora for his knock," he said. "It was outstanding and if we'd got him out early then we would have seen a much lower score on the board."
"Sultan Ahmed and Awal Khan had a great partnership and after Sultan departed and Amir Ali and Awal paired up, their run partnerships really made the difference for us. We can't be complacent though, tomorrow we've got USA who we know will be wanting to bounce back after being bundled out for 44 so we need refocus to face them at HKCC."
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's bowlers sparked a dramatic collapse to set up a comfortable seven-wicket victory against Denmark at the Mission Road Ground.
Having worked their way to a respectable 71 for 2, Denmark lost eight wickets for 31 runs in 15.4 overs. Najeeb Amar made the key breakthrough removing Denmark captain Michael Pedersen for 34 and struck again four overs later to snare his brother Carsten for 6. Amar broke the back of the top order when he dismissed Rizwan Mahmood for 24 and by that point the floodgates were open. No other batsman reached double figures as new-ball pair Irfan Ahmed and Aizaz Ahmed shared five more wickets - each bowled - to speed through the lower order.
The modest chase was never going to be too much of a bother and despite losing Roy Lamsam for 19, Hong Kong barely broke sweat. Coutney Kruger struck six boundaries in an unbeaten 40 and Mark Chapman hit a breezy 29 from 33 balls - with a six and two fours - to take the home side to the victory line. Chapman fell on the brink but with over half the innings left, it was never going to be costly.
"It's obviously great to finally get a win in the tournament and hopefully we can carry this momentum through to the next game against Italy," Irfan said. "I just seemed to be able to get things right for us when it came about to claiming the wickets with the ball moving easily in the conditions at Mission Road. We kept things tight and it paid off for us today and we showed what we are capable of doing as a side."
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Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.