Jersey tops Guernsey to keep promotion hopes alive
Allrounder Ben Stevens nabbed his second straight Man of the Match award, following up 2 for 22 with the ball by steering Jersey's chase with an unbeaten 67 in a seven-wicket win over Channel Islands rivals Guernsey at St Martin.
The result put both teams at 3-1, behind 4-0 Oman, though Guernsey remains ahead of Jersey on the net run rate tiebreaker with a +0.069 advantage. Guernsey faces Oman on the last day of pool play and, barring a dramatic upset by Nigeria over Jersey, needs to beat Oman to stay alive for promotion and force a three-way tie at 4-1 for the two promotion berths available.
Jersey won the toss at Farmers Field and captain Peter Gough opted to give Guernsey first strike. Despite a few edges that failed to carry to the slips cordon in the first three overs, Guernsey openers Matthew Stokes and GH Smith coasted through the first 15 overs in a promising half-century stand. It ended when Rob McBey struck midway through his second spell, beating Smit for pace with a short ball as an attempted pull ballooned to Nat Watkins at mid-on for 28.
Two overs later, McBey snared Oliver Newey with a low full toss that struck low on the pads for an easy lbw decision before capping his 3 for 41 with the key scalp of Matthew Stokes for 36, brilliantly taken down the leg side by Jake Dunford standing up to the stumps. Stokes' score wound up being Guernsey's best output on the day as a steady procession followed back to the pavilion.
Stevens and fellow left-arm spinning allrounder Watkins wiped out the middle order with Watkins claiming 3 for 29 in eight overs. Guernsey captain Jamie Nussbaumer's dismissal was a microcosm of Guernsey's limp batting effort, scooping a half-hearted drive back to Watkins for 14. Two balls later, Watkins pinned Oliver Nightingale on the crease with a full delivery for a duck to make it 97 for 6 in the 26th over and a Jersey rout was on in full force.
Guernsey was eventually bowled out for 149 in 42.2 overs, forcing Jersey to bat for eight overs before lunch. Watkins opened with Gough and was dropped on four but only added one more run before he was castled by Nussbaumer. In the final over before the break, Stevens had yet to score when he went to pull Nussbaumer but was through the shot early and looked to have possibly edged one off the back of his bat through to wicketkeeper Jason Martin - who came up with a spectacular one-handed diving effort to his left - but was given not out to leave Guernsey distraught as Jersey went into the interval at 16 for 1.
Guernsey applied strong pressure after play resumed with Gough finally succumbing in the 16th to a mistimed pull off Luke Nussbaumer, which found Smit backpedaling at mid-on for 20 to make it 33 for 2. At that stage Stevens was stuck in a rut on 6 off 36 balls, but the arrival of Jonty Jenner at the crease paired with a tactical switch to spin by Guernsey allowed Stevens to settle. Two balls into left-arm spinner Max Ellis' second over, Stevens stepped down the track to loft him over the sightscreen for six and from there he batted fluently for the rest of his innings.
Jenner made for an excellent partner, pushing hard with his running between the wickets in making 41 off 50 balls. The two shared an 88-run stand with Jenner falling just before Stevens brought up his 50 off 90 balls. A four and a single through the covers by Stevens off David Hooper brought scores level before a wide down leg ended the match with 10.1 overs to spare.
Oman maintained their perfect record with a resounding nine-wicket win over Tanzania at St Saviour. Zeeshan Maqsood top-scored for the third match in a row and unbeaten for his second straight dig, ending 62 not out off 57 balls in Oman's chase of Tanzania's 94 which was overhauled in 17.4 overs.
Left-arm spinning allrounder Aamir Kaleem took 5 for 23 to set up the short chase after Oman sent Tanzania in at the toss. Tanzania stand-in captain Shaheed Dhanani made 32, one of only three players to reach double-figures in Tanzania's paltry total. He was ninth man out for Kaleem's fourth wicket before a five-for was completed four balls later as Tanzania lasted 32.5 overs in a game ending before the lunch break.
Vanuatu notched their first win of the tournament to keep alive hopes of avoiding relegation, defeating Nigeria by 110 runs. Patrick Matautaava, who missed Tuesday's loss to Oman with a left quadriceps injury, came back into the lineup to score a crucial 60 off 43 balls at No. 7, dominating a 71-run sixth-wicket stand with captain Andrew Mansale after Vanuatu were teetering at 118 for 5 in the 34th over. An undisciplined bowling effort from Nigeria added 33 extras to Vanuatu's total of 227.
No one in the top seven made more than 12 as Callum Blake and Apolinaire Stephen made the most of the new ball for Vanuatu to reduce Nigeria to 66 for 7. Nigeria captain Kunle Adegbola made 42 at No. 8 to prevent his side from being bowled out for under 100 for the third match in a row. He fell to Mansale for the eighth wicket before Blake returned to clean up the rest of the tail, finishing with 4 for 26.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna